A state law that hasn’t changed since 1975 caps compensation for families harmed by medical negligence. The limits apply to lost quality of life, even if a patient loses a leg, a child, or is disabled for life. Click on the picture of the map to find patients by the State Senate Districts they live in.
Lloyd Monserratt was a UCLA grad, a rising star in California politics, a Latino Vote Director for the DCCC, a Director at NALEO, a Chief of Staff to a LA City Councilmember and LAUSD School Board Member, and a consultant to elected officials. He and his fiancée were planning their wedding. But his promising life ended at age 36 because no one at a Kaiser hospital noticed he was dying of a full-body infection caused by a gross surgical error.
His surgeon, later found to have a record of past arrests including felony crack cocaine possession, was never held accountable. He had perforated Lloyd’s bowel during surgery and failed to detect it afterward. The hospital easily avoided even disclosing the case because of the state’s harsh cap on malpractice awards.
Monserratt entered the hospital on a Monday for gall bladder removal and bariatric surgery. After the surgery, his doctor told his fiancée, Michele, that the surgery was a success and Lloyd was “very strong.”
By noon the next day, when Michele visited, Lloyd was in severe pain. She demanded that the doctor see Lloyd, but the surgeon never appeared while she was present. Lloyd’s pain medication was increased but neither she nor Lloyd was ever given information on his true condition.
On Wednesday, a doctor (not his surgeon) entered Lloyd’s room. When asked how Lloyd was progressing, he said “normally,” that he was where he should be. Yet hospital records obtained later showed that Lloyd’s kidneys were already failing. The spreading infection could have been stopped with surgery and antibiotics, but no action was taken.
On Thursday morning, the hospital called his family and fiancée, asking them to get to the hospital quickly but declining to say why. By the time Michele arrived, Lloyd was dead. While the attending doctor’s statement was “we did everything we could but we couldn’t save him,” he refused to describe why Lloyd died. The family, stunned and in search of the truth, paid for a private autopsy that found the infection and surgical errors. Yet, the hospital deemed that his death was of “natural causes.”
Lawyer after lawyer turned away the family, saying that their case was strong but the state malpractice caps were too low to mount a legal case.
Ultimately the hospital settled with the family in mediation for a modest amount. The surgeon continued to practice and, according to other malpractice cases that were made public after Lloyd’s death, committed errors that threatened the lives at least two other patient’s.
Californians will have the chance to vote on the Fairness for Injured Patients Act on the November 2022 ballot. The Fairness Act would update California’s medical malpractice damage cap for nearly 50 years of inflation, and allow judges and juries to decide fair compensation in cases involving catastrophic injury or death. Learn more about this campaign for patient safety.
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