A woman who woke up one day with a strange tingling in her leg is now unable to walk more than a few steps. And her life changing condition has cost local health giant Group Health millions.
Shari Stoican used to hike beaches, guide Alaskan fishing trips and live a very active life. Now she can't do it on her own anymore.
“"How life changed? Is it changed? Everything about it changed,” said Stoican.
Stoican said she couldn't get her health care provider to listen to her. She said Group Health Cooperative staff did not respond to her repeated attempts to tell them she something was truly wrong.
"I got up in the morning, kneeled to pray and when I tried to stand up my leg didn't work," said Stoican, who met reporters Thursday with her attorney Jeff Campiche at her side.
Stoican and Campiche repeatedly claimed that Group Health did not take her complaints seriously and delayed looking at MRI images which would have clearly shown a large cyst in her spine. Left unchecked, that cyst, they said, put pressure on her body that destroyed nerves and weakened her ability to control bodily functions. She said she can take only a few steps without the use of a walker or cane.
Stoican said she met with reporters after receiving a $2.5 million settlement from Group Health because she wants doctors and staff to listen more closely patient complaints, and she wants people to speak up loudly when they feel they are not getting the attention they need.
Group Health issued the following statement in regards to the Stoican case.
Our physicians and other health care team members work hard to ensure that the care and service we provide meet their patients’ expectations and needs.
At Group Health our physicians refer patients to medical imaging based on their condition and symptoms. The attending physician can order an urgent reading of a medical image if the patient communicates acute symptoms or there is an emergent injury. This means the imaging will be read by radiology immediately. If the patient does not communicate critical symptoms or an emergent issue is not apparent the reading of the image is delivered within the next business day.
We can’t go into detail about this case because Federal and State laws prohibit us from discussing any information about our patients. When we hear that a member has had a less than positive experience with Group Health we take it seriously and review our process and approach to care and make adjustments when warranted.