15 December

An incarcerated man at Monroe Correctional Complex died while being treated for an abdominal wound. The Washington State Department of Corrections has since admitted to negligence in the man’s medical treatment and has agreed to pay a $3.25 million settlement to his family after they filed a medical negligence lawsuit.

According to Johns Hopkins University, the third leading cause of death in the U.S. is preventable medical errors. There should be trust that medical providers will do no harm. If that trust has been abused by a medical provider’s negligence, the Hawaii medical negligence attorneys at Kurzban, Kurzban, Tetzeli, and Pratt are here to help.

The Sad Case of Negligence

According to the lawsuit filed by John Kleutsch’s widow last year, the 57-year-old inmate received treatment for an abdominal incision from the prison infirmary after outpatient surgery for cancer. The wound became a festering infection, and after Kleutsch pleaded to the staff, he was offered over-the-counter Tylenol. He suffered for 26 days before dying of septic shock, acute pancreatitis, and a perforated intestine on Aug. 28, 2018.

Dr. Julia Barnett, the former medical director at the Monroe prison, has a history of questionable medical care leading to several inmates’ suffering and deaths. She was hired by DOC leaders despite lacking qualifications for the job. After an internal investigation, she was fired in 2019.

According to medical records cited in the settlement, the staff had asked Barnett to transfer Kleutsch to a hospital, but she refused. He was not examined, and his chart was not updated with a plan of care even after the infection worsened. At one point, he lost the ability to eat, and the staff forgot to give him intravenous fluids.

On March 18, 2021, before trial, lawyers for the state formally admitted Kleutsch’s medical care was negligent and led to his death.

Kleutsch was serving a sentence for child molestation.

Malpractice and Negligence by the Numbers

According to the most recent data from the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), a database operated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the annual average of reported medical malpractice claims are more than 12,000 from 2009 to 2018. The average payout for these claims was more than $300,000.

The average physician spends more than 10% of their career dealing with malpractice or negligence litigation with 99% of physicians facing at least one lawsuit by the age of 65.

We are here to help

If you or a loved one has been injured or become ill due to the negligence of a medical provider in Hawaii, we are skilled at managing the complexities of even the most confounding medical malpractice claims.

Your proper care and making sure you get fair treatment are our main concerns. We have the experience and resources to fully investigate what happened and who is at fault. Contact the Hawaii medical negligence attorneys at Kurzban, Kurzban, Tetzeli, and Pratt for a free consultation by clicking here or calling 866-377-3676.