CLAREMONT (CBSLA.com) — An Encino woman is breaking her silence about a multimillion-dollar verdict she received against a local hospital.
As CBS2’s Tom Wait reports, Anna Rahm had a happy, carefree and innocent childhood. It wasn’t until she reached the middle of high school when things would change.
“I had a trip to Washington D.C.,” she recalls. “During that trip with my class, I realized that I started dealing with an aggressive issue in my leg.”
The pain made it difficult for Rahm to walk.
“We went to our chiropractor, and that’s how we started,” she said.
Wait says the chiropractor referred Rahm to her doctor, which meant a visit to Kaiser Permanente in Woodland Hills, where her family was insured. It was March of 2009.
“We requested an MRI on our visit, and they said that they couldn’t give us an MRI. That it wasn’t in her control at the time. In the doctor’s control,” she said.
The family says for the next several months, they repeatedly asked for an MRI, but Kaiser refused their request.
Instead, Kaiser provided other treatments, including an epidural, and suggested physical therapy.
Rahm says it was 4 1/2 months later when an MRI was finally approved. By then, she says, it was too late.
Doctors diagnosed her with a cancerous mass that was so large that treatment to eliminate it did not work.
“They told me they were going to have to amputate my leg right after I woke up from surgery,” she said.
Rahm now has only one leg as doctors had to remove it along with part of her pelvis and a section of her spine in order to save her life.
“I was just in denial,” she said. “Until it was gone, I didn’t think it was going to be gone.”
Rahm decided to file a lawsuit against Kaiser in which she accused them of botching her care and failing to perform an MRI that could have saved her leg.
Her attorney Michael Bidart says the evidence spoke volumes.
“We created three-dimensional model of an earlier X-ray that had been done outside of Kaiser before she went there, and then the actual size of the tumor at the time, four months later when it was finally diagnosed,” Bidart said.
In March, a jury sided with Rahm and her legal team, awarding her $28 million.
“I just believe it’s really important that everyone is listened to case-by-case,” she says.
Rahm, 23, is in school and studying to work in a hospital with people coping with life-changing operations.
“I’m really compassionate for helping individuals because that’s especially why I’m going into child and adolescent development to work with them and their families,” said Rahm, who will eventually get fitted for a prosthetic leg.
CBS2 offered Kaiser a chance to appear on camera, but it declined. Instead, it released the following statement: “Although we understand the jury’s findings and wish only the best for Ms. Rahm, highly respected medical experts testified that the medical care provided was appropriate.”
Kaiser can appeal the ruling.