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Tuesday, May 21, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

HIV Patient: Kaiser Canceled Surgery

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - A Kaiser doctor canceled hip replacement surgery for a patient with HIV "for fear of his medical team's safety," the man says in a $750,000 Multnomah County Complaint.

John Kindle is infected with HIV/AIDS and has suffered various medical problems and complications.

In March 2012, he was referred to Dr. Duncan Hodges at Kaiser's Sunnyside Medical Center in Clackamas, Ore. for treatment of his left hip, which was causing him significant pain. Dr. Hodges, who Kindle says was well aware of his medial history, told him he needed a total hip replacement and scheduled the surgery for Oct. 26, 2012.

"Hodges recommended this surgery while having full knowledge of plaintiff's HIV/AIDS status and his blood laboratory results regarding his HIV infection and CD4 levels. Hodges did not, at that time, discuss any risks associated with plaintiff's HIV/AIDS diagnosis and the recommended surgery," according to the complaint.

Hodges, however, required Kindle to undergo substantial dental work before he could be cleared for surgery, he says.

"Plaintiff fulfilled this request over several months and was formally approved for surgery, based on his completed dental work and his blood laboratory results regarding his HIV/AIDS infections levels, in September 2012. Plaintiff was required to complete pre-operation preparation procedures in September and October 2012, and he did so without complication," the complaint states.

Two days before the surgery, however, Kindle says Hodges suddenly backed out.

"On Oct.24, Hodges abruptly cancelled plaintiff's surgery, stating that he was concerned about plaintiff's infection levels and because he was concerned about the safety of the surgical team. Hodges' stated reasons for the cancellation of the surgery were a false pretext for intentional discrimination, as plaintiff's laboratory results were not substantially different than prior laboratory results, and Hodges had previously scheduled the operation based on those same laboratory results," Kindle said in his complaint.

He believes the surgery posed "no substantial risk for the surgical team," that Hodges' sudden cancellation was discriminatory and that he should have at least given him some other options for treatment.

"In a phone interview with plaintiff on or about Oct. 24, Hodges stated that the real reason he was cancelling the surgery was his concern for the safety of the surgical team," the complaint states.

Ramón Pagán, attorney for the plaintiff, told Courthouse News in a phone interview he didn't know why Hodges required dental work be done before the surgery, but said regardless of the reason, Kindle did what was asked of him.

"That is going to be one of the questions in the case, but what is relevant, regardless of whatever requirement laid on him, Mr. Kindle fulfilled them for him (Hodges)," he said.

He added that despite Hodges' fear, the question is whether that fear was justified.

"What's laid down in the complaint is that nothing had significantly changed prior to the surgery. The risk factor was not elevated, based on any of the documents. Another doctor performed the surgery, so it comes down to the reasonableness of that decision [not to do the surgery]. They have a duty not to discriminate against people."

Kindle is suing for discrimination under Oregon's Revised Statutes and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He seeks $750,000 in compensatory damages and an injunction in the form of a modification of the administrative rules, procedures and policies that led to the denial of services at Sunnyside.

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