Daughter Claims Kaiser Patient Suffocated

     SANTA ROSA, Calif. (CN) - A 74-year-old man died of suffocation as Kaiser nurses tried without success to get a doctor to transfer him to the ICU, his family claims in a wrongful death complaint in Sonoma County Court.
     Lynda Tawney sued Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, The Permanente Medical Group, Inc. and Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, for wrongful death, elder abuse and reckless neglect, as the personal representative of the estate of her father, James Gerrans.
     According to the complaint, Gerrans was "doing poorly after knee surgery," at a Kaiser hospital.
     Doctors knew "Mr. Gerrans' oxygen level was repeatedly dropping below life sustaining levels and that Mr. Gerrans was gasping for air and anxious and frightened. Defendants knew that their own treating nurses were desperately trying to get one, any, defendant doctor to come in and treat Mr. Gerrans and to order his transfer to the ICU and to place Mr. Gerrans on a ventilator and to provide him with pain medicine to ease his suffering," the complaint states.
     With his wife Della Gerrans, and daughters Linda Tawney and Renee Gerrans by his side, Gerrans "saw and felt their fear and their desperate and futile attempts to get him help. He saw and felt his treating Kaiser nurses failed and futile attempts to get that same help. He turned blue. He lost consciousness. He endured great pain and suffering due to his undiagnosed and untreated medical condition and suffocation and lack of pain medication," it continues.
     "Defendant nurses finally had to call for a 'Rapid Response Team' as the only way to get the necessary attention and transfer and treatment," but it was too late and Gerrans "died a painful and agonizing death by suffocation," according to the complaint.
     Tawney accuses Kaiser of causing Gerrans' "extreme suffering due to untreated suffocation and abandonment," saying Kaiser "refused to attend to Mr. Gerrans as part of their usual and common practice to ignore and abandon care for their elderly and infirm patients," the complaint states.
     The estate seeks punitive damages. The estate is represented by Douglas C. Fladseth of Santa Rosa.