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Kaiser Misdiagnosis Led to Paralysis, Woman Says

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - Kaiser sent a patient home with a prescription for Vicodin after failing to diagnose bleeding between the skull and brain that left her paralyzed, a woman claims in court.

Nai Saechao says she was taken to NW Permanente P.C., operated by Kaiser Foundation Hospital, on the afternoon of May 11, 2013, presenting "with a history of severe neck pain with numbness and tingling in her arms and legs with no known trauma."

Doctors allegedly diagnosed her with cervical strain and sent her home with a prescription for Vicodin.

At around 5 p.m., Saechao called a Kaiser advice nurse to say the Vicodin was not working, and that her pain and numbness had worsened, according to the complaint in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

Twenty minutes later Saechao allegedly told another nurse "that she was unable to use her arms and legs."

An ambulance brought her back to the hospital where "she was diagnosed with quadriplegia as a result of an epidural hematoma which previously went undiagnosed and treated causing the quadriplegia," according to the complaint.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine defines such injuries, also known as extradural hemorrhages, as "bleeding between the inside of the skull and the outer covering of the brain."

Saechao says Kaiser had a responsibility to perform imaging studies at the time of her first visit, that it should have performed "an adequate neurological exam and adequately document Ms. Saechao's symptoms in light of the lack of any traumatic history."

It also had a duty to "rule out the worst potential cause," before sending Saechao home with Vicodin, according to the complaint.

"As a result of the negligence and violations of the defendants as alleged above, Nai Saechao is permanently paralyzed," the complaint states.

Nai Saechao and her husband, David Nguyen, allege medical negligence and loss of consortium, respectively. They seek a combined $12 million in damages and are represented by John Coletti of Paulson Coletti.

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