Many San Francisco Bay Area residents find that joining a Kaiser Permanente medical plan provides the most affordable option for medical coverage. There are certainly many reasons to consider Kaiser coverage. However, we have found that Kaiser’s efforts at cost containment and other aspects of the one-stop shopping model Kaiser offers can sometimes result in tragic medical mistakes. The Zinn Law Firm has successfully represented dozens of Kaiser members in lawsuits alleging medical malpractice and, in some cases, dependent adult abuse under California’s Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Protection Act. Due to our repeated success in representing people and families injured by Kaiser malpractice, attorney Carter Zinn has been invited to lecture to other attorneys repeatedly in MCLE events sponsored by the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association and the Consumer Attorneys of California on how to go about pursuing a medical malpractice case against Kaiser.
There are a number of unique issues involved when pursuing a medical malpractice case against Kaiser physicians or facilities. For this reason, if you believe you have a medical malpractice claim against Kaiser, you need to find an attorney who is specifically experienced in litigating against the entity. Kaiser’s medical system is so large and complex, we have learned specific techniques to ensure that in the medical record request and discovery process, we obtain all the relevant medical records for our clients. Our discovery process is more comprehensive than what you would find with most firms. For example, audio recordings of calls to nurses, computer entries made in a patient’s chart that Kaiser claims are not part of the patient’s official medical record (and therefore often not produced when requested by patients or inexperienced counsel) become very valuable. We also have learned how to obtain and use Kaiser’s own physician protocols and guidelines to prove that their physicians or other medical staff breached their own internal guidelines, and the standard of care in the community, in their care for our clients.
Another aspect of litigating cases against Kaiser that is different from suing non-Kaiser hospitals or physicians is that Kaiser requires all of its member patients to waive the write to a jury trial and agree to arbitrate any claims they have for medical malpractice. Many Kaiser patients are not aware of this. The Zinn Law Firm is recognized in the San Francisco Bay Area trial lawyer community as the experts on how to challenge and break the contracts signed by Kaiser patients that waive their right to a jury trial. California Health and Safety Code section 1363.1 contains strict requirements that must be followed when a managed care plan, or HMO, like Kaiser asks its patients to waive the right to a jury trial if they wish to pursue claims of medical malpractice. We have found that the vast majority of contracts signed by Kaiser patients that nominally waive their right to arbitration fail to comply with these requirements. We therefore routinely challenge the Kaiser arbitration agreements on behalf of our clients so that our clients can have their Kaiser medical malpractice claims tried before a jury of their peers, and not a private single arbitrator, in cases where we believe a jury trial would be preferable.
Because medical malpractice settlements are almost always confidential, we cannot specifically identify results we have achieved in the dozens of cases we have achieved against Kaiser. However, if you wish to discuss our experience and track record holding Kaiser accountable for the injuries caused when their patients are injured by medical mistakes, please contact The Zinn Law Firm for a free consultation: 415-292-4100.