A Los Angeles jury has ordered the Kaiser HMO and an affiliated physician group practice to pay $11.4 million in damages for retaliating against a staff radiologist who complained about poor patient care at one of its Los Angeles-area hospitals.
The case, which led to a Dec. 11, 2008, decision favoring Dr. Michael Martinucci in Los Angeles Superior Court, began as internal management problem between the radiologist and employees at Kaiser Sunset hospital in Hollywood, CA.
Martinucci was taken on by the Kaiser medical group in 2003 and worked in the radiology department at the Kaiser Sunset facility where he developed new and updated clinical protocols for ultrasound, CT, and gastrointestinal imaging. Court records indicated that some radiologic technologists were not keen on adopting his protocols and patient advocacy efforts. Martinucci also found that staffing, training, and supervision were so poor they represented a risk to patients, according to court documents. He reprimanded several technologists in 2005 for inadequate performance.
It ultimately escalated to charges of racism and sexual harassment against Martinucci that the jury rejected. Kaiser plans to appeal.