Mychelle Barris a child died from Sepsis. She was denied medical care by Kaiser which may have saved her life while she was in the King – Drew Medical Center ER in Compton, California. King – Drew did not treat her because Kaiser refused to pay for treatment there and ordered her transferred to a Kaiser hospital.
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In the court’s opinion, Justice Stanley Mosk wrote that a hospital’s failure to stabilize a patient before transferring him or her is “necessarily based on professional negligence” and subject to the state’s malpractice law.
“I feel hurt,” said Barris, a mental health worker who now lives in Victorville. “You put your trust in the hospital, and they just let her lie there. I pray that nobody has to walk through the same footsteps that I walked through.”
On May 6, 1993, Barris’ daughter, Mychelle, became violently ill. She was running a temperature of 106.6, had trouble breathing and was suffering episodes of vomiting and diarrhea. Paramedics took her to the nearest hospital, Martin Luther King- Drew Medical Center in Compton.
She arrived at 5:30 p.m. and was examined by a staff physician, Dr. Trach Phoung Dang, who wanted to do blood tests to determine whether she had a bacterial infection. But a doctor at Kaiser Permanente Hospital told him not to do so, saying that the tests could wait until she was transferred to Kaiser. The girl was enrolled in Kaiser’s health plan.
About 2 1/2 hours after she arrived at Drew Medical Center, the toddler suffered a seizure. Mychelle eventually was transferred to Kaiser Hospital, and at 9:50 p.m., within minutes after her arrival, she went into cardiac arrest and died soon afterward.
The mother sued both the doctors and the county, alleging that the hospital violated a 1986 federal “patient dumping” law that prohibits a hospital from inappropriately transferring or refusing to provide medical treatment to anyone in need of emergency care.
Experts testified at the trial that Dang probably knew from Mychelle’s symptoms that she was suffering from sepsis, a life- threatening bacterial infection that requires prompt treatment with antibiotics.
A Los Angeles jury found both Dang and the Kaiser doctor negligent and concluded that the county hospital had violated the federal anti-dumping law by not stabilizing Mychelle’s condition before transferring her.
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