Raymond Paul Johnson - Civil Litigators - Los Angeles, CA

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Los Angeles, CA, February 5, 2008

An Arbitration Panel has just held Kaiser, the largest HMO in the country, guilty of medical malpractice, and liable for the death of Peter Lakos, Sr. (73) of San Pedro, California. Mr. Lakos was a patient at Kaiser’s Harbor City facility in December of 2005.

On December 13, 2005, he was scheduled for release to an extended care facility for physical therapy. The next evening, Mr. Lakos, a Type II Diabetic, was injected with ten (10) times the prescribed NPH insulin, a high alert medication, by Kaiser nurse Mark O’Bannon. Cross-examination of Kaiser staff during Arbitration revealed that after injecting Mr. Lakos with 80 rather than 8 units of insulin, Nurse O’Bannon commented: “Whew. That was a lot of insulin.”

Only then did another nurse check the medication record and confirm the overdose. As expected with insulin overdose, Mr. Lakos’ blood sugar level plummeted. That starved his brain to where it no longer performed automatic functions such as breathing. As a result, Mr. Lakos went Code Blue, suffering respiratory arrest which overstressed his heart. For days thereafter he deteriorated, until he finally succumbed on December 27, 2005.

Raymond Paul Johnson of Manhattan Beach, attorney for the Lakos family, stated: “Kaiser, in a staggering display of corporate arrogance, launched a frivolous defense through its designated expert, Sharon Rennick, R.N. of Orange County. She testified that because Nurse O’Bannon ‘perceived’ that 80 was the correct dosage (even though it was 8), the overdose was not negligent and his actions were within the proper ‘standard of care’ for patients.”

Johnson further remarked: “When I first heard this defense, I thought I had fallen down a rabbit hole into ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Later that feeling turned to dismay that a portion of our justice system had become so Orwellian that a corporate wrongdoer would try to sell such a story to decision-makers. According to Kaiser’s defense, making an error that harms or kills patients is always acceptable as long as it was not perceived as error at the time. I only hope, for all of us, that the practice of medicine in California never really sinks that low.”

The Arbitration Panel rejected Kaiser’s defense. It found that the overdose was below the standard of care and led to the death of Peter Lakos, Sr., awarding $318,944.00 to the Lakos family. The Panel also rejected Kaiser’s second line of defense in which it argued that Mr. Lakos died because he was old, sickly and had not cooperated fully with hospital personnel during his stay at the Harbor City facility. Johnson explained: “The resounding irony here is that Mr. Lakos’ wife, Rose, was a retired nurse who served 28 years at Kaiser. She related that she was horrified about how patient care had deteriorated there since she had retired.” Mrs. Lakos testified at Arbitration that her husband had not only been overdosed, but had developed bedsores because of inadequate patient care, had been confused with other patients while at the hospital, and had been essentially ignored during most of his Kaiser stay.

Her attorney Mr. Johnson stated: “Despite what the Lakos family experienced, Kaiser used a ‘scorched earth defense’ because of the staggering odds against patients in these types of lawsuits. First because of draconian caps on damages set over thirty (30) year ago, the maximum recovery is $250,000.00 plus out-of-pocket losses such as burial expenses. Those caps apply regardless of how the defendant hospital maims, cripples or kills its patients. Because of that, most of these cases are economically prohibitive for patients to maintain. Just the cost of the arbitration process, depositions and finding doctors brave enough to testify against hospitals wipes out much of the recovery, and that’s only if the patient wins. If they lose, it’s devastating to them in every way.”

Johnson further explained: “In addition, the Kaiser arbitration process is stacked in favor of Kaiser who has essential veto power over the present and future arbitrators who decide these cases. Additionally, Kaiser has a ready-to-go stable of medical experts to testify on its behalf, and controls the documentary evidence (mainly medical records) in all of these cases. Mix all this with the fact that the 30-year-old cap on damages makes patient representation essentially a pro bono effort, and the end result is that patients who are harmed cannot find lawyers to represent them.. My firm for example has a perfect record of victories at arbitrations and trial in medical malpractice cases, yet we accept and prosecute very very few. We are pleased however that, in this particular case, we were able to bring at least some sense of justice to the Lakos family.” End of Press Release.


For further information, please contact Attorney Raymond Paul Johnson directly at (310) 246-9300, the Law Offices of Raymond Paul Johnson, 10990 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1150, Westwood, Los Angeles, California.

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