Have a Story to Tell? Had a medical error?

This blog is about patient safety, medical malpractice, staying healthy, and preventing future errors. Help & empower someone else, Teach a lesson, Bear witness, Build our community - Email us or call 781-444-5525.

Frustrated with a health problem?

Need an ally in your health crisis? Call 781-444-5525, or learn more.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The insurer had initially refused to pay: A liver transplant lawsuit

Nataline Sarkisyan was a very sick teenager. She had been diagnosed at 14 with leukemia. Her cancer went into remission after two years of chemotherapy, but it returned last summer.

The day before Thanksgiving, she received a bone marrow transplant from her brother. Unfortunately, a complication caused her liver to fail.

Her parents asked CIGNA, their insurer, to authorize a liver transplant. CIGNA initially refused to pay for it, saying it did not cover experimental or unproven treatments.

Four doctors at UCLA submitted a letter to CIGNA on December 11 that urged the insurer to reconsider, saying that in Nataline's case the liver transplant would be neither experimental nor unproven. They cited the survival rate in such cases.

The University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center told the family on Dec. 14 that a liver was available, if the family could pay a down payment of $75,000, in view of CIGNA's denial of authorization. The family couldn’t afford it.

On Thursday, Dec. 20, following a rally by 150 nurses and community members outside its office in suburban Los Angeles, CIGNA changed its decision. But it was too late; Nataline died a few hours later.

Nataline's father has retained a lawyer, Mark Geragos, to bring a lawsuit against the insurer, asserting the initial refusal of the liver transplant contributed to Nataline's death.

Advice: Check the customer satisfaction ranking of your insurer, and switch if their rankings are low.

Browse for related stories in the index at the very bottom of this page, or read a story about the affordability of a liver transplant.

Thanks to Alicia Chang for the source article in today's Boston Globe.

No comments: