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Torrance woman's family claims 'death by bureaucracy' in lawsuit

A Torrance woman's family has filed a lawsuit against two hospitals for her wrongful death. They accuse both LA HealthCare and California Health Net of having engaged in unnecessary bureaucratic wrangling over who was going to foot the bill for her out-of-network liver transplant. Her family alleges that four months worth of stalling ultimately resulted in the 53-year-old woman dying of liver cirrhosis in November of 2015.

The lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court of Los Angeles back in May. It chronicles how the decedent pleaded with the two defendants to make a swift decision about her care soon after she first found out she was being placed on the transplant list in the months before her death.

Instead of doing so, her family's attorney alleges that providers continued to tell both them and their mother that they were waiting for a response. This kept her from receiving the necessary initial consultation to get the transplant process moving. It's believed that her having the transplant would have had a strong potential to save her life.

The family's attorney notes that the woman ultimately died because these two health maintenance organizations (HMOs) decided to engage in a lengthy contract negotiation. He alleges that they did this because the HMOs were more consumed with cutting their costs as opposed to putting the woman's health first.

The lawsuit doesn't specify specific amounts of damages demanded. It does note, however, that the woman was appointed legal guardian of her five grandchildren previously. They all resided with her at the time of her death. Her three adult children and her grandchildren are listed as plaintiffs in the suit.

As for Health Net, the plaintiff accuses them of having recently increased their profit margins as a result of engaging in similar types of negotiations with the same results. The plaintiff, therefore, argues that damages need to send them a message that this practice is not acceptable.

Although those without insurance routinely face difficulties in seeking medical treatment, the bureaucratic red tape doesn't end there. It also plagues insured patients, especially when it comes to the handling of out-of-network procedures.

If your or a loved one's medical condition worsened because inadequate care was received, then an Irvine personal injury attorney can advise you as to your legal options in your case.

Source: Daily Breeze, "Torrance woman awaiting liver transplant suffered ‘death by bureaucracy,’ lawsuit alleges," Nick Green, Oct. 01, 2017

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