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Lee v. Hawaii Pacific Health (121 Hawai’I 235, 216 P.3d 1258)

Hawaii-elderly-woman-nursing-home-abuse-200x300Articles: Hawaii

Lee v. Hawaii Pacific Health (121 Hawai’I 235, 216 P.3d 1258)

CASE:
Lee v. Hawaii Pacific Health (121 Hawai’I 235, 216 P.3d 1258)
PARTIES:
Plaintiff (Appellee) – Lee, as personal representative of the estate of her son, Ross Unebasami (Deceased)
Defendant (Appellant) – Hawaii Pacific Health
COURT:
Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawaii (2009)
PROCEDURAL HISTORY:

Lee brought a tort action against a hospital and its parent company on April 17, 2006, alleging serious emotional distress due to Defendant’s negligent misrepresentation in connection with hospital’s caring for Lee’s son prior to his death. Defendant moved to have the case dismissed on grounds that Lee did not exhaust all administrative remedies before filing her complaint. The Circuit Court granted the hospital’s motion.

SUMMARY OF FACTS:

In 2000, at the age of 17, Ross was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. After initially being treated with chemotherapy, Ross relapsed in February, 2003. On March 27, 2004 Ross received a bone marrow transplant at Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women and Children.

Ross chose to have the procedure at Kapi’olani because that is where he received his initial treatments and was confident and familiar with the staff and facilities there. On or about April 4, 2004, Ross’s condition began to deteriorate and his doctor determined that his kidneys were failing and asked that he be admitted into Kapi’olani’s pediatric ICU for renal dialysis.  Ross was refused admission due to his age and was returned to an isolation ward of the hospital.  On April 24, 2004, Lee was informed by the charge nurse that it was an administrative error and miscommunication to admit Ross to Kapi’olani for a bone marrow transplant that arrangements had been made to transport him permanently to another hospital. Ross pleaded to remain at Kapi’olani, but to no avail.

On June 25, 2004, Ross died due to unavoidable complications from his bone marrow transplant.

OUTCOME AT TRIAL:

The Circuit Court ruled that since the complaint stemmed from a medical tort, putting it under the jurisdiction of the Medical Claims Conciliation Panel (MCCP), which required under Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) § 671-12(a), that all administrative remedies be exhausted before a complaint can be filed.

ISSUES ON APPEAL:

Did Lee’s complaint qualify as a medical tort, requiring her to exhaust all administrative remedies before filing her complaint?

SUPREME COURT HOLDINGS:
Yes
RELEVANT APPLICATION OF LAW:
“Any person or the person’s representative claiming that a medical tort has been committed shall submit a statement of the claim to the [MCCP] before a suit based on the claim may be commenced in any court of this State.”

  • HRS § 671-12(a) (1993)

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