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Doc Scorches Kaiser|Hospital in SoCal

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CN) - The Kaiser hospital in Moreno Valley cuts corners and risks the lives of patients, and ignored doctors' complaints about its inadequacies until two patients died, an anesthesiologist claims in Superior Court.

He claims the hospital retaliated for his complaints by defaming him and booting him out 4 years before his contract expired.

Dr. Kenneth Bradley says he and five other anesthesiologists accepted 5-year contracts at the hospital.

Bradley worked for the nonparty Hilliard Group, of Bakersfield, which provided anesthesiology services for the defendants, which include Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, and Dr. Krishnama Raju, the Moreno Valley Kaiser hospital's chief of orthopedic surgery.

Bradley also sued Alan Heng, another anesthesiologist at Kaiser, Moreno Valley, and the hospital's COO Corey Seales.

Bradley claims that soon after he and his colleagues were recruited, drugs went missing from anesthesiology carts. He claims that he and his colleagues were "continuously denied immediate access to medicines" in ways that were "detrimental to their jobs," and that "it took plaintiff and his fellow anesthesiology colleagues approximately 6 months in order to gain access to these medications."

He claims the OB department at Kaiser-Moreno Valley kept necessary "emergency medication ... behind locked doors," in contrast to Kaiser-Riverside and Kaiser-Fontana, "where the anesthesiologists have immediate access to these same medications."

"During the course of his employment, plaintiff made several complaints to his superiors, including Raju, that nurse inadequateness presented life-threatening deficiencies," Bradley says. "These complaints were purposefully ignored until two (2) patients died."

Bradley claims that "in direct retaliation for [his] complaining about inadequate patient care, Raju misrepresented plaintiff in his Performance Review ..."

He claims that "Moreno Valley's equipment was outdated, their ventilators were unusable, and they insisted on taking pediatric cases when their intensive care unit ('ICU') was not accredited for pediatric ICU cases. This placed the lives of several patients in peril after severe complications."

He claims that "Raju was given scientific articles on Kaiser-Moreno Valley's ventilators, stating that they were inadequate for delivering anesthesia to pediatric cases. Kaiser-Moreno Valley was being asked to do anesthesia in a way that was inferior, dangerous, and compromised patient safety due to the hospital's financial strains and resistance from Kaiser-Riverside from conducting pediatric evaluations. Plaintiff complained about this and was retaliated against for doing so.

"Raju consistently and constantly pressured plaintiff and his colleagues to do inappropriate cases and became extremely angry when they refused to adhere to his commands. However, plaintiff refused to put any of his patients in danger. Raju would state that plaintiff was to do it 'the Kaiser way,' not plaintiff's way."

He claims Raju "continuously slandered" him and "conspired" with Seales and Heng to remove the Hilliard Group doctors.

And he claims that 2 weeks before the end of his first year at Kaiser-Moreno Valley, he "was placed on leave, based on the fact that plaintiff had informed a patient of their [sic] right to be transferred."

Bradley's 13-page complaint contains a more wide-ranging attack upon the structure of the Permanente Medical Group and Kaiser Foundation. He claims the Southern California Permanente Medical Group's "very existence as a purported separate entity is, in fact, a sham, designed to perpetuate the myth that KFHP [Kaiser Foundation Health Plan] is a legitimate 'nonprofit' corporation."

He claims that Kaiser Foundation Health Plan "is in fact a 'for-profit' enterprise regularly reporting its profitability publicly and distributing profits through SCPMG, and other similar entities it has created to house the physicians who own and actually control KFHP."

Bradley seeks punitive damages for retaliation, defamation, interference with prospective economic advantage and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

He is represented by Charles Mathews & Associates of San Marino and Melanie Savarese of Sierra Madre.

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