Former oncologist claims Kaiser Permanente pushed profits over patient care, files $7
million lawsuit
Aimee Green
Oregon Live
April 23, 2014


A former oncologist at Kaiser Permanente is suing the health care company for $7
million, claiming she had no choice but to quit her job after complaining the
organization was maximizing profits to the detriment of cancer patients.

Dr. Jennifer Lycette claims quality of care took a nosedive when Northwest
Permanente Medical Group hired Jeffrey Weisz as its president and executive medical
director in 2011. Weisz had previously worked for Kaiser in Southern California.

"During Dr. Weisz's tenure (in California), he established a reputation as a ruthless
administrator who found ways to minimize payrolls by shrinking staff while patient loads
skyrocketed, often leaving the remaining staff members trying to cope with impossible
patient demands which ultimately harmed Kaiser's patients," reads Lycette's lawsuit,
filed Tuesday in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

In an email statement, Kaiser spokesman Michael Foley said, "The care needs of our
members, patients, and customers come first. Allegations that claim otherwise are not
supported by fact.

"We're reviewing the lawsuit that was filed," he addied, "and will address its inaccurate
allegations through the judicial process."

The suit was filed by Lake Oswego attorney Roderick Boutin.

Lycette's suits claims that during a November 2012 meeting, Weisz ordered Kaiser's
Portland oncologists to cram an initial consultation and bone-marrow biopsy of patients
-- something that should take two to 2.5 hours and be done over two visits -- into one,
60-minute visit. Lycette’s suit states pain medication that must be taken orally takes 30
to 60 minutes to kick in, so a 60-minute visit would leave patients rushed and in pain.

Lycette "openly and respectfully voiced her concerns," and Weisz responded by
shouting at Lycette in "a very angry and threatening manner," her suit states.

Lycette's suit also claims she complained in April 2012 to the then-chief of medical
oncology, Nagendra Tirumali, about understaffing. She says patients were struggling
to schedule appointments and some chemotherapy patients were only seeing their
regular oncologist every two or three months.

Tirumali responded that Lycette was being “emotional,” according to a copy of an
email attached to the suit. Lycette’s suit characterizes Tirumali's response as a "veiled
attack" on her gender. Her suit states she later asked Tirumali whether he would have
accused a man of being "emotional" over the issue of understaffing.
Lycette, 40, worked for Kaiser for about seven years -- from 2006 until she resigned in
spring 2013 -- at its Interstate medical offices in North Portland and Sunnyside Medical
Center in Clackamas, according to her suit. Her suit states she had the highest patient
satisfaction rating, 89 percent, in her department.

Lycette’s suit alleges that before taking the job in 2006, she asked several Kaiser
doctors if they thought they could care for patients without feeling that financial
overhead compromised care. They assured her they could, the suit states.

Lycette’s suit states, however, that she became troubled by new Kaiser policies after
Weisz was brought in.

Among her other complaints, her suit alleges she expressed concerns about a ban on
referring patients to non-Kaiser specialists or clinical trials outside of Kaiser -- even
though doing so would be in the best interests of patients.

She resigned in April 2013, because of her oath to do no harm and her belief that
Kaiser policies were "making patients suffer," her suit states.

According to the website for Oregon Health & Science University, Lycette relocated to
Astoria and is now working at OHSU's Cancer Care Center at Columbia Memorial
Hospital.

Lycette is seeking $2 million in economic damages and $5 million in non-economic
damages.
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Kaiser Blamed for Slip of Knife, Bleed, Death
By BARBARA WALLACE
Courthouse News Service
April 18, 2014
          

MARTINEZ, Calif. (CN) - A woman died of a perforated bowel following hernia surgery
because doctors were "busy," her family claims in a lawsuit filed in Contra Costa
Superior Court.
Cynthia Black and Alyssa McCarty sued Kaiser Permanente International, Prescilla M.
Manglinong, R.N. and William Pao Cheung Ku, M.D. for the wrongful death of Delores
Burke.
Burke was Cynthia Black's mother and Alyssa McCarty's step-grandmother, with
whom McCarty had lived since she was three years old, the complaint says.
Dr. Ku performed hernia repair surgery on Burke in December 2012, according to the
complaint. It says her bowel and small intestine were perforated during the operation.
"After the surgery, Ms. Burke had internal bleeding and/or fluid loss, as well as an
elevated white blood cell (WBC) count that indicated infection. However, no health
care professional adequately assessed and treated the resulting infection and blood
loss. In fact, her chart wrongly indicated that she was 'free of signs of infection.' This
failure to assess and treat her blood loss and infection occurred despite a number of
warning signs," the complaint continues.
Her white blood cell count climbed dramatically the day after the surgery and "her
post-operative intake of fluids was significantly higher than her output, which should
have resulted in a nurse or doctor evaluating her for internal bleeding and
responding appropriately. This did not occur," the complaint states.
"Later that day, Ms. Burke complained of what Nurse Manglinong described as
'unanticipated' pain. However, Nurse Manglinong told Ms. Burke that both her
surgeon and another doctor in the hospital were busy. As a result, her complaints
were not addressed, and she was merely told to take two pain pills," the complaint
states.
By the time doctors operated again to repair the damage, "it was far too late. She had
slipped into a comatose state and never regained consciousness," it says.
Cynthia Black and Alyssa McCarty seek special and compensatory damages, loss of
Burke's care and economic support, prejudgment interest and a jury trial.
They are represented by Bradley R. Bowles and Nathaniel B. Duncan of Bowles &
Verna in Walnut Creek.
Blog posts Kaiser malpractice
Recent Kaiser cases
Former oncologist claims Kaiser Permanente pushed profits
over patient care, files $7 million lawsuit

"...Lycette’s suit states, however, that she became troubled by new Kaiser policies
after Weisz was brought in.

"Among her other complaints, her suit alleges she expressed concerns about a ban
on referring patients to non-Kaiser specialists or clinical trials outside of Kaiser -- even
though doing so would be in the best interests of patients.

"She resigned in April 2013, because of her oath to do no harm and her belief that
Kaiser policies were "making patients suffer," her suit states.

"According to the website for Oregon Health & Science University, Lycette relocated to
Astoria and is now working at OHSU's Cancer Care Center at Columbia Memorial
Hospital..."
2014
Courthouse News Service
November 19, 2014

Kaiser Ignored
Kidney Cyst,
Woman Claims
By BARBARA WALLACE
       


ELLICOTT CITY, Md.
(CN) - Kaiser ignored a
kidney cyst that turned
out to be cancer, a
woman claims in the
Circuit Court for Howard
County.
Loistene Lassiter sued
Kaiser Foundation
Health Plan of the
Mid-Atlantic States, Inc.,
seeking $5 million plus
interest, costs, attorney's
fees and a jury trial.
According to the lawsuit,
Lassiter had a CT scan of
her abdomen and pelvis
on Jan. 10, 2008. The
written report of her scan
stated, "Subcentimeter
hyperdense lesion
involving the mid left
kidney may represent a
hyperdense cyst, or other
etiology. Suggest
correlation with
sonography of the kidneys
or consider follow-up with
CT in three months to
assess for stability or
change," according to the
complaint.
But the next day,
Lassiter's doctor
"informed Ms. Lassiter in
a letter that her most
recent CT revealed no
acute findings," the
complaint states. The
suggested follow-up
sonography or CT scan
did not happen, it says.
Over the next three
years, as Lassiter had a
variety of routine medical
appointments for various
conditions and
procedures, "nothing
was ever said of the
hyperdense lesion on
her left kidney nor did
any follow-up occur
concerning it," the
complaint states.
"On Jan. 11, 2011, Ms.
Lassiter reported to her
doctor that she was
experiencing lower back
pain covering a period of
three (3) weeks. She
stated that the pain had
expanded to the lower
right side, below her
stomach. She also
indicated that heat and
cold packs, Epsom salt
soaks, and medication
like Advil had not
resolved the pain. She
also mentioned that
upon urinating, she
experienced a burning
sensation and noticed
some blood," it
continues. (Parentheses
in complaint.)
Her doctor suggested a
kidney stone or infection,
according to the
complaint. However, after
a variety of tests over
the next month, Lassiter
was told she had a
kidney mass, much
larger than originally
seen in 2008,
"suspicious for neoplasm
(i.e. new and abnormal
growth, such as a
tumor). What had been a
millimeter in size (and not
monitored by Ms.
Lassiter's doctors) had
now grown to
centimeters, i.e., it grew
from .02 inches to 1.5
inches," the complaint
states. (Parentheses in
complaint.)
Lassiter says she told
her doctor she was upset
by the lack of monitoring
and discussion about the
cyst and options for
treating it. "Her doctor
informed her that she
never had conversations
with her about the cyst
because she did not
know about it until
recently! The doctor said
that 'zillions of people
have small cysts on their
kidneys - it is incredibly
common and not typically
worrisome,'" the
complaint states.
"Ms. Lassiter underwent
major surgery to remove
a part of her left kidney
in June 2011. The pre
and post operation pain,
stress, and anguish were
significant," the
complaint states.
"Sharing the news with
her family produced
more mental anguish
than Ms. Lassiter ever
experienced in her life.
The questions, fears,
anxiety, etc., were
overwhelming," it
continues. Lassiter says
she missed substantial
time from her work, her
vacation plans were
disrupted and she had to
give up competitive
tennis.
"The strain on
relationships was also
palpable. Her husband
was gravely concerned
and questioned the
doctor about numerous
things. Sex was not
occurring, and this
lifestyle change was one
of many endured due to
Ms. Lassiter's medical
condition," the complaint
continues.
Even now, Lassiter says,
"she experiences
anguish about her
current and future health
condition, and she must
have follow-up medical
attention for the rest of
her life! Every pain or
discomfort causes
thoughts about cancer
returning, more surgery,
other organs being
cancerous, dying from
cancer, etc."
Loistene Lassiter is
represented by Rickey
Nelson Jones of
Baltimore.
Kaiser Fired Woman in Retaliation, She Claims
By PHILIP A. JANQUART
Courthouse News Service
March 27, 2015
  

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (CN) - Kaiser managers said a woman was not trustworthy,
but retaliation was the reason she was fired, she claims in a Los Angeles Superior
Court complaint.
Belinda Branch began working at Kaiser's Parkview Building as a medical assistant
in 1978, earning "exemplary" job performance evaluations over the next 34 years.
In 2014, she became the focus of an investigation after reporting a Kaiser employee
for sharing a patient's private medical information with two other employees without
consent, in violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
(HIPAA).
This medical information released and obtained by the other employees contained
private and sensitive medical information including information from the General
Surgery File, according to the complaint.
Branch was called into two meetings where she was confronted by "compliance"
officers who she says were hostile, angry and repetitive in their interrogation-style
questioning.
She was called into a third meeting on June 4, 2014 and told that, "her employment
with Kaiser was being terminated and gave [her] an ultimatum of either resigning
and be allowed to receive unemployment benefits or being fired and to not be able
to obtain unemployment benefits," the complaint states.
She added that the Human Resources department informed her that she had to
write the resignation letter immediately and that she would be fired if she didn't write
it using the exact wording provided to her. Branch says it was only under "coercion
and manipulation" that she did so.
"Ironically, plaintiff was being punished for following the law and reporting HIPAA
violations and for doing the right thing in looking out for the privacy rights of a
Kaiser patient," the complaint states.
When asked why she was being fired, Kaiser said she committed "egregious acts"
and that she "was no longer a trusted employee at Kaiser."
No action was ever taken against the employees who violated the federal law,
according to Branch who noted that all three are younger, "outside plaintiff's
protected class" and were "treated more favorably."
She says she believes Kaiser's actions against her were retaliatory, her
"whistle-blowing" used as a guise to fire her because she is older.
Branch was fired for false and pretextual reasons, in retaliation for her
whistle-blowing and based on age, the complaint states.
Branch sued Kaiser Permanente and Southern California Permanente Medical
Group for age discrimination under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, wrongful
termination and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violation of state
labor laws.
She seeks general and special damages for loss of past and future earnings, and
benefits; damage to reputation; failure to advance employment; and loss of job
privileges.
Branch is represented by Michael Carr, in Monrovia; and Roman Otkupman, in
Woodland Hills.

Courthouse News Service
August 13, 2015
$7M Claim Says Kaiser Delayed Cancer Diagnosis
By BARBARA WALLACE
           

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - A man's prostate cancer went undiagnosed for four years, he
and his wife claim in Multnomah County Circuit Court, seeking $7 million.

Sam Pieh and his wife Kari Howland sued Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Northwest
Permanente, P.C., Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest and a doctor, John
Woo, for personal injury and medical malpractice. Pieh seeks $5 million in
non-economic damages and $1 million in economic damages. Howland seeks $1 million
in non-economic damages.

According to the lawsuit, Pieh was seen at Kaiser for prostate-related symptoms in
August 2010, May 2011, May 2012 and May 2013. Despite his elevated PSA test
levels, which were known in 2010 and 2011, no additional PSA test was ordered in
2012 or 2013, according to the complaint.

"As a result of defendants' negligence, the diagnosis and treatment of Sam Pieh's
prostate cancer was unreasonably delayed, resulting in him developing Stage III
prostate cancer, having to undergo a radical prostatectomy, suffering prolonged pain
and distress, impotence and partial incontinence and having a shortened life
expectancy," the complaint states.

In addition to the $7 million, Sam Pieh and Kari Howland seek a jury trial. They are
represented by Patrick L. Block in Gresham.
More Kaiser lawsuits
Kaiser Nixes Interpreter for Emergency Patient
By TISH KRAFT
Courthouse News Service
January 22, 2016                

 HAYWARD, Calif. (CN) - Kaiser refused to get a sign language interpreter for an
emergency room patient, worsening her outcome, she claims in a private attorney
general action.
 Kristina and Gary Lundstrom, a couple who self-identify as "deaf" and are
considered "disabled," sued Fremont Hospital; Pooryi S. aka Poorvi S.; Vaseep S.
Kahlon MD; Kaiser Permanente Redwood City Medical Center; Kaiser
Permanente; The Permanente Medical Group Inc. and Kaiser Foundation
Hospitals in Alameda County Superior Court, Jan. 15.
 Mrs. Lundstrom was in the emergency room and then hospitalized for three days
without being able to effectively communicate with her doctors because she and
her husband were deprived of an American Sign Language interpreter, the
couple says.
 Yet, despite her distress at not being understood, and after repeated requests
for an interpreter echoed by her family, none was provided the Lundstroms say.
 Moreover, Kaiser did not have policies or procedures for providing a
sign-language interpreter or other auxiliary aids and services, which the
Lundstroms also requested, the suit claims. Kaiser also did not relay to plaintiffs
or their non-deaf family members that the establishment was legally required to
provide aids and services toward patient communication, it continues.
 The hospital must provide all patients full and equal access under the
Americans with Disabilities Act, and the opportunity to "effectively communicate,"
under California statutes, since it receives government funding, the lawsuit states.
 Kaiser's action, or lack thereof, "manifests a deliberate indifference rising to the
level of an intentional act to discriminate against plaintiff and persons similarly
situated," it continues.
 The lapse resulted in "unnecessarily prolonging her hospitalization, compelling
her to incur unnecessary medical expenses and for them both to suffer physical
and emotional injuries as a direct result of the above-mentioned incident, thus
causing them each humiliation, fear, fright, anger, disappointment,
embarrassment, exclusion, degradation and overall emotional distress," the
complaint states.
 They also claim that each watching each other's distress caused "severe and
debilitating injuries."
 The Lundstroms sue for disability discrimination, unfair business practices,
negligence, negligence per se, negligent infliction of emotional distress and loss
of consortium. They seek declaratory relief and an injunction to correct the
violations, special, general, and statutory damages, punitive damages, attorney's
fees and costs and interest.
 The Lundstroms request a jury trial and are represented by Charles S.
Roseman and Richard D. Prager of San Diego.