Barbara Garvey – Chicago, IL
According to personal accounts:
Chicago resident Barbara Garvey, 54, fell seriousIy ill during a Hawaiian vacation, due to an adverse reaction to a arthritis drug prescribed by her HMO doctor.
The doctors in Hawaii correctly diagnosed her condition and advised the Garveys that she needed a bone marrow transplant immediately. The physicians cautioned the couple that Barbara shouldn’t travel back to Chicago for the transplant, since this would increase the risk of her suffering a cerebral hemorrhage or infection during air travel. Barbara’s HMO review doctor back in Chicago concurred with the Hawaiian doctors.
However, HMO bureaucrats told Barbara’s husband David that the HMO would not be responsible for her treatment if she remained in Hawaii and that she should return to Chicago.
En route to Chicago, Barbara suffered a stroke that paralyzed her right side and left her unable to speak.
When she arrived in Chicago, she was admitted to St. Luke’s Medical Center, where she died nine days later of a cerebral hemorrhage and other complications.
The HMO then attempted to use a legal loophole to avoid all responsibility. That loophole is contained in a law known as the Employee Retirement Insurance Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), which was enacted well before the era of managed care and was intended to provide workers with benefits protections. The HMO claims that because Garvey received her health care through her employer, the Garveys cannot receive damages for Barbara’s death.-
HMOs have been using ERISA, in many cases successfully, to shield them from accountability when they tie doctor’s hands and direct patient’s care leading to injury or even, in the case of Barbara Garvey, death.