I was told that the worst thing that can happen to a human being is to have to bury her child. When Jessie died a part of me died with her and I will never, ever be the same.
But then, it got worse. I learned after days of unanswered questions that Jessie's death was not only preventable, a simple Antibiotic would have saved her life. An antibiotic that would and should have been prescribed had the ER done the test they claimed was done. We were sent to the ER by our physician to rule out a possible bacterial infection in her blood. After hours of waiting, 3 vials of blood drawn and an x-ray. The doctor returned and said the test results are negative for septic and that she probably just has a flu like virus that has located in her knee. He said it should last for about 3 or 4 days and to keep giving her the Motrin and return if she worsens.
Within 2 days she was gone. The night we rushed her again to the ER the infection had taken over her body and it was too late. My Jessie had died.
None of it made sense. What did she die of, they said she had the flu. We were under medical care. What had happened to her.
Days later my answer came.
CDC comes back with what killed Jessie and Dr. Evans original diagnosis was correct. Jessie died of Septic Syndrome due to disseminated Group A Streptococci a bacterial infection that could have been treated with antibiotics. The bacteria infection was found in her heart, lungs, and tonsils, liver and in the macrophages (inside the blood vessels in the skin around the wound).
Gross Medical Negligence? Malpractice? Wrongful Death?
I then decided to call the top attorney's in the Bay Area, thinking I would have my pick of the best. I made my first call, and then it was like I was stabbed again, because of a law called MICRA which stands for the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act. I was told California was the first state to put this law in place in 1975 to cap pain and suffering at $250,000. This was supposed to help stop the increase of medical insurance premiums for doctors.
How did MICRA affect us? After several calls we discovered that we were probably not going to be able to get an attorney. Jessie's case is a wrongful death case. She is a child and not a wage earner so she is not eligible for actual damages. The price tag on my sweet little girl was $250,000 and that is it. Despite the strong merits of the case, attorneys were not taking it, calling it "a bad business decision." With the countless hours of preparation, taking depositions and the cost of medical experts to testify, the $250,000 cap was simply not sufficient funds with which to argue a case.
We are not alone. We were learning on a daily basis what a small unlucky portion of the population already knew: falling victim to medical negligence in a capped state is a double tragedy. As we networked with other victims we learned more and more about the unfairness of MICRA. Other non wage earners like seniors, stay at home moms, young adults who have not established a career yet, and minorities, are just as vulnerable as children.
We feel quite strongly that caps, especially in cases like Jessie's, are unconstitutional. We feel that because the law forces the attorney's to look at WHO the victim is and not the MEDICAL ERROR in question that it violates "equal protection under the law."
To our surprise, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in effect, confirmed our feelings when it struck down that state's $350,000 cap in a very important ruling handed down on July 14, 2005. I use to think MICRA just needed to be amended now I feel it should be eliminated!
This law is an ugly secret to the public and has been kept in place because of the powerful interest money behind it. I cannot help but wonder how many people gave up on trying to get an attorney, because they kept getting turned down. The silent cries, that were never heard, the pleading of a broken heart in pain that is beyond description.
Because of who Jessie was, my child, my beautiful precious little girl, in the Law of Micra she is worth $250,000. Her life ended.
In your family. In this situation, who would they say was worth only $250,000.
Help us change this outdated law that only protects the insurance companies.