Maui Hospital Lawsuits

When you go to the hospital, you expect to be taken care of properly. Unfortunately, all too often, patients throughout Hawaii receive health care that falls below acceptable standards for the medical profession. When this happens, you may be able to file a legal claim against the doctor, nurse and/or hospital responsible for the harm that you suffered.

If your condition got worse or you were injured as a result of something that a health care provider at a hospital did or failed to do, you may be able to sue a Maui hospital. This type of lawsuit is based on a theory of medical negligence, which may also be referred to as medical malpractice. A skilled Maui medical malpractice lawyer can help you with the process, starting with a free consultation.

While you may think that medical malpractice cases are rare in Hawaii, they are unfortunately all too common. As illustrated below, Maui County hospitals have faced a number of personal injury lawsuits for medical negligence by hospital employees. If you believe that you are a victim of medical malpractice, our team at Menzer Law Firm, PLLC, can help you recover compensation for your injuries.

Maui Memorial Medical Center Lawsuits

Maui Memorial Medical Center (MMMC), which was previously part of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation (HHSC), has been sued numerous times for medical malpractice. Like most personal injury lawsuits, many of these cases were settled out of court without going to trial. However, there are still a number of prominent examples of lawsuits against MMMC.

In 2020, the family of a Maui kumu hula filed a lawsuit against the hospital and a nurse staffing company, Host Healthcare, after Martha Medeiros died at the medical center. She had gone to the hospital for treatment for complications related to vog (volcanic fog). According to Hawaii News Now, she was administered a fatal dose of the powerful opioid fentanyl and died at age 78.

In 2001, a toddler in Maui died as the result of abuse suffered at the hands of her mother and her boyfriend. At one point, she was treated at Maui Memorial Medical Center, where she is alleged to have suffered additional injuries during emergency surgery. After her death, her father filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital.

In a similar case, MMMC settled a lawsuit related to injuries suffered by a child who visited its emergency department after suffering abuse at the hands of her mother. According to the lawsuit, hospital workers negligently left a tourniquet on her lower leg, which resulted in permanent damage to her foot. MMMC health care providers settled the claim.

It isn’t surprising that Maui Memorial Medical Center faces numerous lawsuits, given that Consumer Reports ranked it at the bottom of its list for safety at large hospitals in Hawaii. In 2014, MMMC received a score of just 51 points for safety, due in large part to low scores for hospital-acquired infections and poor outcomes for surgical mortality. According to Medicare data collected by Consumer Reports, MMMC had a mortality rate of 141 deaths per 1,000 surgeries with complications – a substantially higher number than those reported by hospitals of similar size.

Kula Hospital Lawsuits

Kula Hospital has also faced lawsuits for medical negligence. Formerly part of the HHSC until it was taken over by Maui Health (part of Kaiser Permanente), Kula Hospital has 123 beds. It is a general medical and surgical facility, offering an onsite emergency room (ER) for urgent care.

Hawaii law treats medical negligence claims differently than other types of personal injury cases. Rather than immediately filing a lawsuit, the process begins with filing a complaint with the Medical Inquiry and Conciliation Panel (MICP). Many medical malpractice claims are resolved through this process or another form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), which means that claims against health care facilities like Kula Hospital are often not public.

Kaiser Permanente Maui Lawsuits

In 2017, Kaiser Permanente’s Maui Health System took over Maui Region Hospitals from the HHSC. The privatization of these hospitals was complicated due to a lawsuit related to the Employees’ Retirement System. After the attorney general announced an agreement between HHSC and the retirement system, Kaiser Permanente took over the three Maui County hospitals – Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital.

As the primary provider of hospital medical care on the island, Kaiser Permanente/Maui Health Systems has faced a number of lawsuits related to medical negligence. For example, in 2015, Walter Kan Hai III sued a doctor and the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan for failure to diagnose end-stage renal disease. Instead, he was diagnosed with bronchitis and infection and sent home – where he collapsed just four days later.

In 2019, a woman who killed two people in a crash filed a lawsuit against Kaiser Permanente, arguing that the medical center had improperly discharged her when she sought psychiatric care shortly before the accident. Ashley Wellman, who was acquitted of murder by reason of insanity for the fatal crash, went to the hospital system’s Wailuku Clinic for help with depression. The clinic determined that she met the criteria for an involuntary hospitalization due to her suicidal ideations but discharged her and did not follow up to see if she sought care. The following day, Ms. Wellman ran a red light while traveling at 127 miles per hour on Haleakala Highway, hitting a truck and killing the two people traveling in it.

Is There A Limit On The Amount Of Money You Can Recover In A Medical Malpractice Claim Against A Maui Hospital?

In a medical negligence lawsuit, you can typically recover both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are meant to address the financial losses that you suffered as a result of the malpractice and may include things like lost earnings, medical bills, future medical care and even necessary home renovations. There is no limit on economic damages in Hawaii medical malpractice claims.

By contrast, noneconomic damages are meant to cover intangible losses, like scarring and disfigurement, mental anguish, and pain and suffering. Under Hawaii law, there is a cap of $375,000 on pain and suffering damages in medical malpractice cases. An experienced Maui medical malpractice attorney can help you obtain the maximum compensation for your injuries from the at-fault hospital or medical center.

How Much Time Do You Have To File A Maui Hospital Lawsuit?

Under Hawaii law, you have two years to file a medical malpractice claim against a Maui hospital or health care provider. This is known as the statute of limitations. If you fail to file a claim within this time period, it may be barred entirely.

Importantly, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until you discover the injury (or from the time when you should have discovered it through the use of reasonable care). For example, a doctor at Kula Hospital did not diagnose you with lung cancer despite clear signs that you had a malignant tumor. Six months later, a different doctor diagnoses you with cancer and states that the other doctor should have seen the tumor on an X-ray that they took. In this situation, the two-year statute of limitations begins to run on the date of your diagnosis, when you were informed that the original doctor failed to diagnose you properly.

Suffered Medical Negligence? We Can Help.

If a hospital failed to properly diagnose you or committed an error in treating you or a loved one, you may be able to file a lawsuit against it. In a medical malpractice lawsuit, you can seek compensation for your full range of losses, including lost wages, pain and suffering, medical bills and more. A seasoned attorney specializing in medical malpractice can help you with the process, starting with a free initial consultation. If you have questions about medical malpractice claims, please see our answers to some common questions and contact us for further information.   

Located in Wailuku, Maui, we at Menzer Law represent injury victims throughout Maui who have been hurt in all types of accidents – including medical negligence. We handle all cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that you never pay a fee unless we recover money for you. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us at 808.427.5752 or fill out our online contact form.