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Kidney patient wins $7.3M judgment

Tripler's improper treatment led to a woman's renal failure, a judge rules

By Nelson Daranciang

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:00 a.m. HST, Mar 05, 2011



A federal judge has awarded a $7.3 million judgment to a 37-year-old Waipahu woman whose kidneys failed and had to be removed after surgery at Tripler Army Medical Center for kidney stones.

The judge also awarded the woman's husband $150,000 for damage to the couple's matrimonial interactions.

U.S. District Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi handed down the judgment and her findings of fact last month. She presided over the case's nonjury trial last October when she was a U.S. magistrate judge.

Siuila Mamea and her husband, Felise Mamea, sued the government in 2008 after they discovered that Siuila Mamea's treatment at Tripler in 1997 for urinary tract problems caused her kidney failure years later.

Kobayashi found that the Tripler doctors failed to properly diagnose Mamea's ailment and, as a result, administered her an antibiotic during and after surgery that is toxic to kidneys, used a dye that is also toxic to kidneys when they did a CT scan on her, and failed to provide follow-up treatment after surgery that would have revealed their improper diagnosis and treatment.

The court awarded Mamea $1.25 million in general damages, $1.3 million for past medical expenses including thrice-weekly dialysis treatments for the past five years, $339,493 in lost wages, $117,174 to move from a fourth-floor walk-up apartment to one that is either on the first floor or accessible by elevator, and $4.3 million for future medical expenses.

Mamea was living in American Samoa when she started experiencing medical problems in 1995. Doctors at the Lyndon B. Johnson Tropical Medical Center referred her to Tripler under the Pacific Island Health Care Project in 1997 after they were unable to diagnose Mamea's ailment.

The project is an agreement between the U.S. and its former trust territories. Tripler provides medical consultations and treatment while giving its doctors-in-training work experience.






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