TRAGEDY AND TRAVESTY AT KAISER HOSPITAL
Dr. Nayvin Gordon
350 30th Street #405
Oakland, Ca. 94609
June 26, 2005
On 3/12/01 I rushed my twenty year old daughter to the Kaiser Hospital Emergency
Department in Oakland.
She had been suffering from a severe headache for three days when she began to
have difficulty talking and became disoriented. I was concerned that she might have
encephalitis (a brain infection) and I voiced my concern to the hospital staff. All of
this is documented in the hospital records.
She was given a spinal tap, and the spinal fluid was abnormal with an elevated
white cell count, consistent with a viral infection. Every Medical Textbook
states clearly and unequivocally that in BOTH viral meningitis (a relatively benign
infection) and viral encephalitis (a severe and potentially deadly infection) the spinal
fluid shows the same elevation of white cells. The texts also clearly state that if a
patient has an abnormal spinal fluid consistent with a viral infection
and ALSO has altered consciousness or difficulty speaking the patient should
be suspected to have Herpes encephalitis (a potentially devastating infection),
“should be admitted to the hospital for supportive therapy and intravenous
acyclovir(anti viral medicine)” Quote from Harrison’s Principles of Internal
Medicine 1998 Edition.
But Kaiser sent my daughter home with a diagnosis of viral meningitis, telling her
that nothing could be done. She was not seen by an Infectious disease specialist.
On 3/15/01, after three more days of headache, my daughter had a seizure and was
rushed back to Kaiser Emergency department. Spinal fluid was still abnormal and
she was admitted to the intensive care and treated for Herpes Encephalitis.
After a week in intensive care my daughter was discharged home with significant
brain damage. She was forced to drop out of San Francisco State University, due to
her cognitive loss. She has been receiving cognitive therapy ever since. She was
slowly able to resume her studies but only at a reduced load. Some four years later
she finished her junior year. It may take her another two years to finally finish her
degree at SFSU. My daughter’s brain and personality were damaged by Kaiser
Hospital’s failure to diagnose and treat her when she first presented to the
I decided to file complaints and to sue for the following reasons. First I needed to
obtain funds to help with a prolonged education and therapy for my daughter.
Second I wanted to create standards for all patients with abnormal spinal fluid who
are seen at Kaiser. I believe it should be MANDATORY for all patients with abnormal
spinal fluids be seen by an infectious disease consultant before discharge from an
First I wrote to The Department of Health Services, State of California. They
concluded 6/19/03, that “the hospital failed to exercise prudent care and
judgment, and failed to mobilize the available resources such as
experienced neurology consultant to hospitalize the patient.” The final
HCFA 2567 report asked for Kaiser to submit a plan of
correction. Kaiser wrote back that they have a peer review
committee. The Department of Health Services has no power of
Next I wrote to Kaiser Hospital and Health plan. They rejected my requests.
Saying their peer review committee said that the care given my daughter
Then I wrote to the California Department of Managed Care who wrote that Kaiser
has a peer review process and they were fulfilling there obligations under the law.
Furthermore the Department of Managed Health care lacks the authority to
determine liability or impose penalties against individual providers. They referred me
to the Medical Board of California. I finally went to the Medical Board of California.
After almost nine months of investigating they called me on the phone on 3/29/05
and said the case is being closed for “insufficient evidence”. No letter, no report.
The last, and final avenue open to me was to take a personal suit against Kaiser. A
personal injury suit may win a financial settlement but it can have NO effect on the
STANDARDS of care at Kaiser. We then went ahead with the suit, for failure to
diagnose and treat. Kaiser has a mandatory arbitration process. This process is
outside the laws of the courtroom and there is virtually no appeal.
Furthermore in 80% of the cases the patient loses and is then responsible for the
fees, in our case $32,000. As physicians, we are interested in the scientific truth;
unfortunately I learned that “a trial is not a search for the truth. It is a contest,”
so writes Andrew Vachss, in the New York Times Op –Ed on 6/15/05. My
daughter and I can confirm this truth that arbitration is only about winning. Thus the
very nature of the procedure encourages distortion, manipulation,
omission, obfuscation, selective and arbitrary use of evidence and most
dangerous of all, perjury. In my daughters case the perjury of the expert
witness was blatant.
The arbitrator made his decision relying heavily on perjured testimony. In his final
letter of June 2, 2005, The Arbitrator who ruled against my daughter and in favor of
Kaiser wrote, “ the entire weight of the evidence in the hearing only
supported a conclusion that the encephalitis is usually marked by A LOW
WHITE BLOOD CELL COUNT IN THE SPINAL FLUID.” This conclusion
contradicts medical knowledge and every text book for greater than 30
years. When the arbitrator was alerted to this false testimony, he ignored
the issue of perjury and confirmed his conclusion...
Kaiser Permanente links
Kaiser Permanente Peer Review
see also Code of Silence
...Verbrugge had never
been sued, though, or
suspended, or reported to
the state Board of Medical
St. Joseph had handled the
through the hospital's
private, confidential peer
review process. To do
otherwise would have
involved hearings, lawyers,
So no one beyond the local
medical community knew