Various news outlets have carried the story of the case of Daniela Zelig, a 10 year old girl who tragically passed away after being sent home from a Kaiser Permanente hospital when they failed to diagnose her pneumonia. The Law Office of Michels & Lew represented the family in this case and continue to work on changing the current laws that cap the amount hospitals can be held liable for non-earning family members. The cap currently is set at $250,000 and current advocates to changes to this cap are pushing to amend the laws to raise this total to 1 million and adjust with inflation.
Coverage from KCAL and the San Gabriel Valley Tribune follow.
Video Courtesy of KCAL
Kaiser Settles With Family of 10-Year-Old Who Died of Undiagnosed Pneumonia
Original Article Posted at San Gabriel Valley Tribune
By Jason Henry, San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Kaiser Permanente has paid out $265,000 to the family of a 10-year-old who attorneys say died when an urgent care doctor misdiagnosed pneumonia for the flu.
Daniela Zelig died in March 2012 less than a day after her mother took her to Kaiser’s Baldwin Park Medical Center for a fever, vomiting and shortness of breath.
“She was one of the very last patients in the urgent care center,” attorney Jin Lew said. “She was given a very cursory examination. She was basically told she had a viral flu and that they didn’t need to have any antibiotics.”
The attorney from the firm Michels & Lew suspects the doctor did not give Zelig the proper examination because of the late hour, he said.
“Despite the severity and persistence of her symptoms, Daniela was given only a cursory examination and was discharged with a high fever, unstable vital signs and a life-threatening infection,” he said.
The girl’s condition worsened overnight, Lew said.
“Her mother woke the next day and found her daughter essentially dying in her home,” Lew said. Zelig’s parents rushed her to a different emergency room, where she was pronounced dead from pneumonia.
The family fought with Kaiser until December when they finally accepted the settlement agreement because of a cap set by California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, Lew said.
Lew noted that $250,000 is the maximum amount recoverable under the MICRA for the death of a child from medical malpractice.
“They wanted to pay the maximum value and put the case behind them,” Lew said. “Even if you were to take this to trial, the most any judge or jury can award you is $250,000.”
He called the payout a “pittance” for Kaiser.
“The family feels as if Kaiser is really not experiencing any true consequence by virtue of what happened to their daughter,” he said. “To them, it is just the cost of doing business.”
Attorney Philip Michels called the death “a prime example” of the need to raise California’s cap.
“Advocates for this change continue to question how $250,000 can honestly be considered the value of the life of a loved one,” he said.
The legal limitations make it tough for families to find justice as families cannot afford to pursue the matter further because of the cost, Lew said.
The act’s cap would exceed $1 million if adjusted for inflation, he said.
A media representative for Kaiser Permanente’s Southern California branches said the company does not comment on settlement agreements.