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Friday, June 21, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Class Claims Kaiser Has Lax Suicide Care

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A class led by a woman who sought care while suicidal claims Kaiser's mental health care does not measure up, in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The Department of Managed Health Services fined Kaiser $4 million in September 2014 for alleged mental health care deficiencies, Courthouse News Reported.

The lead plaintiff, identified in the lawsuit as S.F., now 50, says she was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder over 15 years ago. Her condition got worse and she became suicidal in 2010 when she learned that her brother, who had molested her as a child, was going to become a father, she says. Kaiser psychiatrists prescribed medication, but that did not solve the problem, she says.

"S.F. was subsequently seen by three different Kaiser psychiatrists to prescribe medicine to treat her Major Depressive Disorder. At least one of these psychiatrists did not remember her on her return visit. S.F. felt that no one at Kaiser was monitoring her mental health situation. Her symptoms did not improve. She remained severely depressed and suicidal," the complaint states.

Despite repeated requests for weekly therapy, and flouting the law, the only options Kaiser offered were single-session appointments - followed by two-to-three week waits for a follow-up appointment - or weekly group therapy, according to the complaint.

S.F. says group therapy was not appropriate for her because she could not discuss incest in that setting.

"Kaiser flatly and repeatedly refused to make an out-of-network referral," the complaint states.

"With no other choice to save her life, given her deep depression and suicidal ideation, and the ineffectiveness of her monthly medication appointments with Kaiser psychiatrists without accompanying therapy, S.F. sought and began weekly individual therapy outside Kaiser," the complaint continues.

Three years later, S.F. felt emotionally stable enough to handle her business affairs and submitted claims for reimbursement to Kaiser, according to the complaint. Kaiser denied her claims.

S.F. contends her therapy expenses should be reimbursed because her Kaiser psychiatrist and a Kaiser Licensed Clinical Social Worker both knew she was seeing outside therapists and recommended that she continue.

S.F. alleges unfair competition, Unruh Civil Rights Act violations, breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and negligence. She seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, restitution, compensatory, statutory and punitive damages, interest, attorneys' fees and costs of suit. S.F. is represented by Christopher H. Knauf of Knauf Associates in Santa Monica.

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