The following is an unfortunate story about how the medical industry can fail patients, sometimes in the most frustrating and tragic of ways. In Dec. 2011, a 53-year-old man complained of chest and shortness of breath. He was insured by Kaiser. He went to an unapproved hospital for Kaiser, but that hospital suggested performing a CT angiogram. It was never performed. He was quickly moved to a Kaiser-approved facility.
He was given a stress test, but it was deemed "non-diagnostic" because the man couldn't reach the needed heart rate to accomplish the test (that certainly sounds like a worrying sign, right?). The test wasn't retried, nor was a CT angiogram performed at this new facility. The man was then discharged.
A month later, the man saw a Kaiser doctor who seemingly approved a test to investigate his condition further, but it was never performed -- nor was any follow-up work, tests or procedure ordered. Another month passed, and the man's brother died of a heart attack. The man had made it clear to Kaiser that his family had a history of heart problems.
Another month-and-a-half of frustration and getting nowhere with Kaiser finally seemed to breakthrough. A new stress test was ordered in late March because the 53-year-old still had the initial symptoms he complained about. However, the test yet again was not performed -- but this time it was because the 53-year-old died of a heart attack before it could be performed.
The man's family is suing Kaiser for medical malpractice and wrongful death. What we see here is not necessarily common, but not uncommon either: the medical system fails to take a patient's claims seriously and, as a result, the patient suffers the consequences. Mistakes are bound to happen in any field, but with the medical system, the perception is greater than the reality. Mistakes simply can't be made, because it can mean life or death for a patient. When doctors, surgeons, hospitals or insurers fail to uphold this high standard, they could be held liable for their potential negligence.
Source: Courthouse News Service, "Family Blames Kaiser for Dad's Death," Barbara Wallace, Jan. 3, 2014