Misty Parker is a nurse and an educator. Misty led a very active, normal life. She lifted weights and took care of herself because she understands the role fitness plays in maintaining good health.
Misty did her research and put a lot of thought into her decision to have a breast augmentation. She had met with two other people who had the same surgery.
Richard Johnson was a natural with computers. At 23, he was a talented software specialist and planned to relocate to Texas to move up in the tech world. He was a social butterfly and had a large circle of friends. His mother, Denise, describes him as an understanding listener and hysterically funny.
Shilpa Airy was an entrepreneur and research scientist who ran a successful biotech consulting business in San Francisco. She worked with many of the top researchers and physicians around the world. She was a leader in her field and devoted her career to developing medications to treat or cure diseases.
Shawn Washington was a mentor to his siblings and summer campers, a talented photographer and musician, and an expecting father. He lived with his grandmother to help take care of her and supported his parents financially. A quiet leader, he was beloved within his community.
Rowan Gibbs had a smile that would light up a room. He was a happy child with a heart filled with love for his family, and a willingness to share his joy with each person that crossed his path.
After forty years of marriage, Don and Jill Stegman had it all—two beautiful children, a stable relationship, fulfilling careers. But a blood cancer led Don to a bone marrow transplant in 2007. Recovery over the next several years included frequent bouts of graft-versus-host disease, which was treated with a drug called prednisone.
It was the kind of accident that could happen to any child at anytime.
Alejandra Gonzalez took her six-week old infant, Mia, to medical providers four times in eight days. A mother of three, Alejandra knew when one of her children was not okay. But at each visit and with each call to her doctors, Mia’s symptoms were downplayed and Alejandra was told to take little Mia home.
Alex Smick had a wonderful life mapped out for himself. At 20, he was studying to be a surgical technician. He was athletic, played guitar, and had a loving and supportive network of friends and family in his suburban L.A. community of Dowey. He couldn’t wait to graduate and get a job to start saving money for an engagement ring for his long time girlfriend.
Around their Fresno neighborhood, Daphne McClendon-Ricks was known to all the kids simply as “Mom.” She was the shoulder to lean on, the unbreakable woman who salved wounds and gave good advice, and the friendly neighbor who helped mow a lawn or gave away vegetables from her bountiful backyard garden. She was a vigorous 59-year-old except for one health problem: a nagging case of diverticulitis, an ailment of the colon.
At the peak of her nursing career, Dana Stinson was permanently disabled by a disastrous surgery and the doctor's subsequent attempt to cover up her mistakes. Now, Dana will never care for another patient.
Robert Downey worked alongside his wife at the elder care business they ran together. He was honorably discharged from the army after serving six years as a sergeant in the United States Army Military Police Corps. An independent and hardworking man, he was dedicated to caring for his family. Soon, everything would change.
Stephen Schaak, an otherwise healthy 51-year-old merchant marine, husband and father of three sons, went to the emergency room exhibiting clear signs of a pulmonary embolism -- blockage of the pulmonary artery or one of its branches to the lung. The emergency room doctor suspected as much and ordered a CT scan to confirm.
A nagging pain in her abdomen sent Shanna Alvarado to a Kaiser hospital in Southern California in October 2010. An ultrasound showed the origins of that pain: a complex cyst that prompted worries about cancer. A radiologist at Kaiser noted in the hospital’s medical records that Shanna should follow up in six weeks, which is the standard protocol in such medical situations.
He was the one who consoled countless victims of crime and disaster, a fire and police chaplain well known in San Diego. Even after a long struggle with diabetes meant Rabbi Aaron Gottesman lost his legs to amputation, the unsinkable chaplain would show up at fires, crime scenes, and disasters to console those in grief from his wheelchair.
On January 5th, 2013 Mario Guzman went running with his wife in the hills near their house. Despite some nasal congestion and weakness for the past few weeks, he ran, thinking exercising might make him feel better. During his run, he twisted his ankle. But even with the pain, he completed his jog.
In 2007, Diane Stewart received two knee replacements because of injuries she sustained in a car crash when she was younger. After the operation, she complained of severe abdominal pain, which nurses reported to her doctor. The doctor (who lived just 10 minutes from the hospital) never showed up. When Diane’s condition worsened, she was placed in intensive care. Her son, himself an M.D., spent the night by her side at the hospital.
Dr. Keith P. Blair became a victim of medical negligence when he was admitted to the hospital at the age of 86 to diagnose the source of his back pain. At the time, he had some short-term memory problems, but he was able to follow the news, sports, and his favorite tv shows, as well as take care of all of his physical needs.
Pauline Tavares, 79, was admitted to a hospital with encephalitis and was given medication to control her anxiety. The next morning, a nurse fed Pauline, but when her doctor came by at noon he said the nurse, “Probably shouldn’t have done that,” because of Pauline’s condition and the medication she had taken.
Elizabeth Nicks was a 12-year-old cheerleader. One day, during an aerial move, she fell to the ground when her fellow cheerleaders lost their grip. A spotter was not in the proper position to catch her.
In October 2009, Patricia Roland of Thousand Oaks underwent heart surgery at age 57 to replace her mitral valve, which helps regulate the flow of blood from one chamber of the heart to the next. The procedure proved troublesome from start to finish.
Cali Andrist was a 58-year-old woman with mental disability.
In 2012, she woke with terrible stomach pain, and that evening her brother, Eric who was her full-time caregiver, took her to the ER at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, CA. After she revived a CT scan, doctors admitted her with what they thought was a small bowel obstruction.
He was a father of two with a new RN certification. But without warning, Doug Shelby found himself in a medical emergency. Late one night in December 2006, Shelby was rushed to an emergency room not far from his LA County home. He felt like his “stomach had exploded.” His abdomen was distended.
Although he was a gifted athlete who excelled at basketball, John Ritchie suffered from a heart condition for over a decade.
She was born with Treacher Collins syndrome, a rare birth defect that left underdeveloped cheekbones, ears and jaw. But to her parents, Delaney Gonzalez was perfect. She was as precocious as any 16-month-old child.
Doctors expected a smooth delivery of Zachary Diecker. But a series of medical errors driven by negligence, lack of oversight, and incompetence would end his life before he even left the hospital.
Tamara Walter underwent a successful lap-band surgery at an outpatient surgery center, but her recovery was another story.
In 2009, during his sophomore year of junior college, Tom McLennan fractured his big toe in a kickboxing accident. Usually, big-toe fractures get a cast and a toe plate and properly heal. But Tom’s primary care physician recommended no treatment at all. The average big-toe fracture takes four to eight weeks to return to normal function; Tom was still in pain a year later.
Nora Bostrom had pulmonary hypertension that required her to use oxygen and take intravenous medications. Despite these challenges, she had a high quality of life. She was a bright, funny, and happy three-year-old, full of promise and optimism. But after a visit to the hospital, she became a victim of several preventable medical errors that lead to her death.
After talking to a neurosurgeon about her history of migraine headaches, Robyn Frankel was told to undergo an invasive cerebral angiogram. This would require the injection of contrast dye into a vein in an attempt to uncover the cause of her headaches. When the dye was injected, Robyn immediately suffered a stroke and went into a coma.
Janet Garner's routine spleen removal surgery was completed without incident. After recovery, she left the hospital relieved, thinking that her medical woes had been taken care of. Years later, however, an infection developed which would change Janet’s life forever.
Shawn Rial had testicular cancer, the most treatable form of cancer, and a projected 90 percent chance of success through chemotherapy. That’s why his family was horrified when he slipped into a coma only a week after beginning treatment.
Beth Stover, 40, was past her due date when she went in for a stress test to determine whether to induce labor. A technician noticed Beth was having contraction and Beth was sent home and told she should not be surprised if she were to deliver the baby soon.
When Daniela was diagnosed with the flu at an urgent care appointment in a trusted Kaiser hospital, her parents could never have imagined that an ambulance would be rushing their daughter to the emergency room only hours later.
Due to a health care change by her employer, Anh Kim Goodson was forced into the Kaiser Permanente system on December 1, 2011. She continued for two and a half years until she was eligible for Medicare at age 65, at which time she switched to a non-Kaiser Medicare doctor.
Sally Hunter was a homemaker in Pasadena, California, happily married to her loving husband Harold Hunter. But everything changed when Sally's colon cancer was discovered. A cascade of complications caused by medical negligence led to over a decade of heartache for this elderly couple.
Quin Murphy, 16, was a soccer fanatic with a family who supported him, coached him, and even went on trips with him to watch his favorite teams. In 2010, all of that ended. Quin and his family fell into a four-month tragedy of medical bumbling that caused Quin intractable pain and ultimately killed him.
For years, California allowed doctors who were arrested for drug and alcohol infractions, including DUIs, to conceal their arrests from patients. Such doctors, even if convicted, entered a “diversion” program that allowed them to keep practicing even if they violated the terms of the five-year program, and even if they failed drug tests during the program. Patients were in the dark.
A few days before Halloween, 7-year-old Jessie Geyer began to feel lousy. She had a high fever and severe leg pain. It was bad enough feeling sick, but the second grader worried that she might have to miss out on the Halloween parade at her school, as well as trick-or-treating.
Just before Christmas two years ago, John Enzenauer, 39, came home from his blue-collar job feeling lousy. He didn't worry much about it: Just a mild case of the flu, he figured. Two days after Christmas, he was dead, leaving this life in the middle of the night while the Christmas wrapping still lay strewn around the tree.
As told by Harry Jordan:
I was brought into surgery at Long Beach Hospital (where I was a Board Trustee) in late 1982 when x-rays revealed that my right kidney was cancerous. Unfortunately, the surgeons involved removed the wrong kidney. They took out the normal one. I then was transferred to UCLA Medical Center, where the cancerous kidney was removed.
Bill Mitchell, a former San Diego City Council member and deputy mayor, is a sophisticated man who thought he knew how to read people. But he now says ruefully that he was bamboozled by people in the medical profession and their insurers into thinking they had his wellbeing at heart when, in fact, they were concerned with the bottom line. Because he trusted them, he has lost sight in his left eye, and has no way to make those responsible pay.
HMO doctors, paid through Medicare, failed to provide medical tests to diagnose and treat heart disease in my mother over a two year period. The HMO physicians failed to respond to cardiogenic shock emergencies.
Evan Kennedy, his father says, was not a foolhardy man. He knew he had an inherited heart problem, so when he decided to train for a marathon in San Francisco to raise money for leukemia research, he checked with his doctor. She, too, knew he had heart difficulties. But she told him that, since he had not displayed any symptoms, he could go ahead and run.
In July of 2000, Kay Marchioni, a second grade and pre-school teacher in Chicago, beat cancer at the age of 56. She decided to do something nice for herself. She had heard about a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon who had appeared on Fox television, Good Morning America, and in People magazine. She called him and asked if he could "tuck" her upper eyelids.
Concesa was an elderly retiree and a grandmother with many grand children. She was a long time Angelino that lived with her daughter Griselle. One day Concesa was experiencing breathing difficulties, so Griselle, herself a doctor, took her to the hospital where she worked. What followed could be described as nothing short of a series of continued failures on the part of the medical staff.
Shelly Gerrans was a homemaker, a loving wife, and the caring mother to three young children. And when she required a hysterectomy, her husband Larry wasn't worried. He had insurance through his employer that would cover the procedure. What they didn't imagine, however, was the possibility that medical negligence could completely derail their lives.
Michelle Woo was a baker in San Francisco, a mother, and an active member in her community. And when she was told she would need heart surgery, her daughter wanted to ensure she received the best care possible, so Michele was taken to Mountain View Hospital, a facility known for its quality surgical care. And the surgery itself went off without incident. It was only after the procedure did things start to go awry.
Cynthia Smith always had been active, despite having multiple sclerosis most of her life. She grew up in Vermont, where she ice skated and joined in all the other outdoor activities that people do in cold climes. As an adult, she remained vigorous, training horses among other things. Now, at 58, Cynthia sits in a wheelchair in northern California, in constant pain from steel rods in her leg. One leg is shorter than the other. She is angry and depressed.
Few medical stories are as horrific as that of Janet Warren, a vibrant, driven career woman who was sent on a 20-year spiral to her death by a doctor's hubris and incompetence. Before it ended Janet had gone through 25 major surgeries, her spine had shattered as she slept, and her life had become constant torture.
Pat Filaseta is no stranger to fighting adversity. When she was 13 she had polio and came out of the hospital with a leg brace and a limp. She felt lucky; she knew it could have been much worse. Within a year or two she was able to walk without any brace or orthopedic device, and did so all her adult life.
A decade later Pat was diagnosed with severe hyper-thyroidism and had her thyroid removed. With treatment and medication, she adapted, and led an active life, swimming, working and giving birth to two children. "I was always in excellent health," she says.