Emergency Patient Says Kaiser Nixed Interpreter

     HAYWARD, Calif. (CN) – Kaiser refused to get a sign language interpreter for an emergency room patient, worsening her outcome, she claims in a private attorney general action.
     Kristina and Gary Lundstrom, a couple who self-identify as “deaf” and are considered “disabled,” sued Fremont Hospital; Pooryi S. aka Poorvi S.; Vaseep S. Kahlon MD; Kaiser Permanente Redwood City Medical Center; Kaiser Permanente; The Permanente Medical Group Inc. and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals in Alameda County Superior Court, Jan. 15.
     Mrs. Lundstrom was in the emergency room and then hospitalized for three days without being able to effectively communicate with her doctors because she and her husband were deprived of an American Sign Language interpreter, the couple says.
     Yet, despite her distress at not being understood, and after repeated requests for an interpreter echoed by her family, none was provided the Lundstroms say.
     Moreover, Kaiser did not have policies or procedures for providing a sign-language interpreter or other auxiliary aids and services, which the Lundstroms also requested, the suit claims. Kaiser also did not relay to plaintiffs or their non-deaf family members that the establishment was legally required to provide aids and services toward patient communication, it continues.
     The hospital must provide all patients full and equal access under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the opportunity to “effectively communicate,” under California statutes, since it receives government funding, the lawsuit states.
     Kaiser’s action, or lack thereof, “manifests a deliberate indifference rising to the level of an intentional act to discriminate against plaintiff and persons similarly situated,” it continues.
     The lapse resulted in “unnecessarily prolonging her hospitalization, compelling her to incur unnecessary medical expenses and for them both to suffer physical and emotional injuries as a direct result of the above-mentioned incident, thus causing them each humiliation, fear, fright, anger, disappointment, embarrassment, exclusion, degradation and overall emotional distress,” the complaint states.
     They also claim that each watching each other’s distress caused “severe and debilitating injuries.”
     The Lundstroms sue for disability discrimination, unfair business practices, negligence, negligence per se, negligent infliction of emotional distress and loss of consortium. They seek declaratory relief and an injunction to correct the violations, special, general, and statutory damages, punitive damages, attorney’s fees and costs and interest.
     The Lundstroms request a jury trial and are represented by Charles S. Roseman and Richard D. Prager of San Diego.

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