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Thursday, May 30, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Kaiser Responsible for Stroke, Says Husband

(CN)- A man says a Kaiser hospital failed to transport his wife to a hospital with neurosurgical coverage, and she died from a hemorrhagic stroke while waiting for a bed at another medical facility.

Saismorn Gopal, a woman with a history of hypertension and diabetes, had a hemorrhagic stroke in November and an ambulance brought her to a Kaiser hospital in Downey, California.

An emergency physician ordered a CT scan for Gopal, which revealed a large hemorrhage that "constituted a dire neurosurgical emergency," according to the complaint. Gopal needed to be transferred to a facility that both had neurosurgical coverage and contracted with Caremore, her HMO.

"Despite learning immediately that a bed was not immediately available at Lakewood Regional Medical Center and knowing that Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center did not have neurosurgical capacity to handle the neurosurgical emergency of Plaintiff's Decedent, none of the Defendants at Kaiser or Caremore made any effort to transfer Mrs. Gopal to another facility where the patient could be transferred for a neurosurgical consultation and intervention necessary to preserve [her] life and health," the complaint says.

Though Gopal "was alert and oriented," she complained of severe pain and had continued nausea and vomiting throughout the morning in the Kaiser hospital.

By the time a hospital bed was arranged for Gopal at Lakewood Regional Medical Center, her mental status had deteriorated and "she was no longer responsive to verbal stimuli," the complaint says.

"For entirely financial reasons, [Gopal] was permitted to neurologically deteriorate without the necessary neurosurgical transfer such that by the time a transfer was finally arranged and accomplished, Mrs. Gopal was unresponsive and essentially moribund," the complaint says.

Gopal stayed at Lakewood Regional for another two days, where she died from her brain injuries.

Mrs. Gopal's surviving husband Sukum brought the wrongful death action against her HMO provider, the Kaiser hospital, the hospital where she was transferred, and various individual medical providers.

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