Arbitration Awards Family $250,000 in Wrongful Death Suit Against Kaiser Hospital

10-11-2010
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ARBITRATION AWARDS FAMILY $250,000 IN WRONGFUL DEATH SUIT AGAINST KAISER HOSPITAL

— Hodes Milman Liebeck Proves Negligent Colon Cancer Screening Led to Woman’s Death —

ORANGE COUNTY, CA – In an August 24 – 26, 2010 JAMS arbitration hearing, evidence proved that Kaiser’s physicians were negligent in failing to follow up when a biopsied colon polyp was lost before it could be determined whether or not the polyp was potentially cancerous.  The arbitrator determined that Doris Schoby, a retired 65-year-old wife and mother, developed metastatic colon cancer as a result of Kaiser’s error, which ultimately led to her death in March 2008. Kevin Liebeck, a trial attorney with the medical malpractice and personal injury law firm Hodes Milman Liebeck Liebeck, LLP, secured an award of $250,000 – the maximum amount available under California’s MICRA damage caps – in favor of Ms. Schoby’s husband and children.

“This case is a horrifying display of what occurs when you place profit ahead of patient care,” said Mr. Liebeck. “It’s tough to square it with anything other than an effort by Kaiser to save money.  Reducing costs is a legitimate goal, but not when it compromises patient care, and certainly not at the price of a patient’s life.”

The arbitrator found that the standard of care was violated by Dr. Henry Chun, a Kaiser gastroenterologist, when he failed to order a complete colonoscopy upon learning that the polyp he had biopsied during a flexible sigmoidoscopy of Ms. Schoby had apparently been lost.  Mr. Liebeck proved that if the colonoscopy had been performed at that time as required under the standard of care, Dr. Chun would have discovered a precancerous lesion farther up Ms. Schoby’s colon, which could then have easily been removed.  Instead, Kaiser took a gamble, proceeding under the assumption that the biopsied tissue that had been lost probably wasn’t cancerous in nature.  Unfortunately for Ms. Schoby, Kaiser’s bad bet cost her life.

When Kaiser’s pathology department lost the tissue sample Dr. Chun had removed, Dr. Chun was duty-bound to assume that the tissue would have come back showing “villous” or pre-cancerous properties.  The appropriate response would have been to then perform a full colonoscopy, which here would have detected the beginnings of Ms. Schoby’s colon cancer, allowing for an almost certain cure.  However, Dr. Chun decided to take a gamble and let her believe that she had been appropriately screened and had a clean bill of health.

Dr. Chun decreased Ms. Schoby’s vigilance because the screening she thought she had, didn’t actually occur.  In doing this, Dr. Chun caused her to believe that she had no concerns, when in fact she did.   This decision by Dr. Chun not only worsened the patient’s condition, but ultimately killed her.


Hodes Milman Liebeck Liebeck, LLP represents the victims of serious personal injury and medical malpractice.

Hodes Milman Liebeck Liebeck, LLP

9210 Irvine Center Drive

Irvine, CA 92618

Phone: (949) 640-8222

Fax: (949) 640-8294

Website: www.hodesmilman.com

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