Teen gets $5 million arbitration award from Kaiser hospital after brain injury

Mother says it may not be enough

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - Ray Palmer, 19, has been granted a nearly $5 million arbitration award after it was determined the hospital charged with making him better actually contributed to a brain injury.

For Palmer, every movement -- every thought -- is now a challenge.

It's been more than two years since a mother's nightmare unfolded at this Chula Vista trolley stop.

"I remember my heart fell when I confirmed it was him at the hospital," said Andrea Palmer, Ray's mother.

A fight broke out and Palmer, out for a shopping trip, got caught in the melee. He was stabbed several times, including wound to his chest.

At Kaiser hospital, a breathing tube was put in.

Ray's mother Andrea said she was told he would recover, but needed help breathing because his body was using all its energy to heal itself.

Andrea said in the next 12 hours, Ray nearly coughed up the tube eight times. She said she told the nurses early on.

Ray's attorney, Bob Vaage, said a doctor should have been notified, so Ray could be further sedated.

"They were aware he was at high risk of the tube disconnecting and they didn't do anything about it," said Vaage.

Instead, the tube was dislodged and cardiac arrest followed. Vaage said Ray went without oxygen for 13 minutes, leading to severe brain damage.

Ray has recovered some function, but his mother said he will require 24-hour care for the rest of his life.     

"I'm angry.  I can't believe this is health care, because there was a lack of care," said Andrea.

In binding arbitration, Ray was granted nearly $5 million. However, the amount frustrates his mother. 

Andrea said she fears that will only cover Ray's pricey care for about two decades.

State laws cap the damages for pain and suffering that Ray can receive.

"He is depressed, and sometimes he says his life isn’t worth living. It hurts a lot, but I will continue to push him. I will see him walk out of the care facility," said Andrea, "I hope Kaiser will make changes, and will do the right thing in the future."

Mina Nguyen Nicoletti, a senior communications specialist with Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center, released the following statement to 10News:

"We have deep sympathy for Mr. Palmer, who suffered grave injuries from a brutal stabbing attack.  After accepting transfer from UCSD Medical Center in San Diego, our intensive care and critical care teams worked vigilantly to save his life.  A nationally recognized Critical Care physician who is a Professor at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center found our care to be excellent. We disagree with the results of arbitration. We believe the clinical team provided appropriate care in this matter and this was corroborated by outside experts. "

 

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