We have another case of an alleged horrific injury due to the ever-present delays at emergency rooms in the United States. Malyia Jeffers, 2, was left for hours in the ER at the Methodist Hospital in Sacramento as her Strep A devoured her body. She ultimately lost both of her feet and one of her hands to amputations and she is fighting for her life at Stanford University’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.
The family arrived in early December when Malyia had developed a fever and was lethargic. She also had visible bruise-like splotches on her cheeks. They sat there for five hours despite the pleas of the parents.
She was in septic shock from a Streptococcus A infection. She is now on life support.
While Malyia’s parents have medical insurance, many of their bills are not covered, including the $26,000 bill for a helicopter ride from Sacramento to Palo Alto.
I am unclear why the helicopter ride is so expensive or why it would not be covered given the medical emergency. Moreover, I do not understand why Democrats and Republicans cannot agree that the current delays in the emergency room are nothing short of a national scandal. We have all experienced these waits in ER rooms. Putting aside the current debate over the health care program, it remain a national disgrace that citizens routinely wait for hours for care. Yet, these same legislators who refuse to do anything about these lethal days are often those supporting caps on recovery for families in tort cases.
Obviously, there is a tort case in the making here for negligence. However, it could turn on factual causation question of whether Strep A would likely have resulted in the same amputations even if properly diagnosed. It would make for a poor jury case, however, for the hospital if this should go to trial.