June 24, 2015 – Wait Times Make Kaiser Psychiatrist Quit, New Lawsuit Alleges

According to Courthouse News Service, a new lawsuit alleges that wait times and patient safety issues made a Kaiser psychiatrist quit. The story is included below; for the direct link and legal complaint, click here.

June 24, 2015 | SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CN) – Kaiser’s retaliation for complaints of wait times and patient safety made a psychiatrist quit, she claims in San Diego County Superior Court.
Laura Wakil, M.D., sued Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc., Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Southern California Permanente Medical Group. Wakil sues for injunctive relief and damages, including punitive damages, plus attorneys fees and costs of suit.

According to the lawsuit: “Having personally observed Kaiser psychiatric patients routinely placed in jeopardy by Kaiser’s negligence and cavalier failure to adequately provide care and treatment, and having witnessed Kaiser’s chronic failure to provide adequate staffing for these patients (which further compromised patient care), plaintiff, convinced that her internal efforts to provide proper staffing and treatment were being ignored, directly contacted and complained to California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC). She further complained that Kaiser was increasing patient loads on psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and other staff, to the point that it was impossible for these dedicated professionals to provide proper care to their patients. Defendants effectively ordered and directed plaintiff and other physicians to effectively treat the patients as if they were widgets or other commodities, running them through the Kaiser system within strict time limits, which ignored the patients’ true conditions and needs. Physicians were directed to set patient appointments three (3) months in advance, disregarding the fact that many of these patients were mentally unstable, in some cases in urgent need of immediate and continuous psychiatric care and needed prompt access to their physicians to avoid dire consequences.”

When Plaintiff refused to remain silent and refused to engage in conduct that she believed was below the appropriate standard of care and in violation of state or federal statute, Kaiser tried to silence her by making her job unbearable and forcing her to resign.

Adverse actions against Wakil included suspending her with pay so that she could “think more about her letter [to the DMHC],” denying her additional staff, including physicians, to alleviate overflow of transfer patients, and denying her access to patients who were in a severe mental state.

She sues for violation of California Health & Safety Code and Business and Professions Code, retaliation, negligent supervision or retention of employee, wrongful constructive termination, hostile work environment, failure to prevent discrimination or harassment, racial, gender and disability discrimination, failure to reasonably accommodate disability or engage in the interactive process, family medical leave rules and adverse actions in violation of public policy. She demands a jury trial.

Wakil is represented by Charles Mathews of the Mathews Law Group in Culver City.