Navy family is awarded $24.7M in malpractice case against Tripler Army Medical Center
By WILLIAM COLE AND NELSON DARANCIANG | The Honolulu Star-Advertiser | Published: March 8, 2018
HONOLULU (Tribune News Service) — The wife of a Navy officer and her family have been awarded $24.7 million after she experienced infection and kidney failure following childbirth at Tripler Army Medical Center — a condition that early on could have been treated with antibiotics, her lawyer said.
Marites Campano gave birth to a daughter at about 1 a.m. on July 23, 2013.
“Two hours later, at 3 a.m., she spiked a very large fever and it was obvious at that time — and that was the start of the continuing breech of the standard of care — the malpractice — that she had an infection that should have been treated with IV antibiotics,” said attorney Rick Fried. “There’s no risk, and it was almost presumptively a serious infection that needed treatment.”
Fried said at a news conference Wednesday that the award by U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin S.C. Chang is the largest verdict ever against Tripler and one of the largest medical malpractice awards in the state.
Tripler said in an email that it “respects the decision of the U.S. District Court and extends our continued support to the patient and family.” The military hospital referred questions about the litigation to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
The case marks one of a number of high-value settlements and verdicts that have occurred over the years.
In 2010 a former Navy family received an $11 million settlement after their daughter suffered brain damage when she was delivered by young and inexperienced doctors.
A $16.5 million verdict was leveled against Tripler in 2006 relating to the birth of Izzy Peterson, who was given carbon dioxide instead of oxygen.
Marites and Rafael Campano, who is now a Navy lieutenant in San Diego, sued the government in October 2015 on behalf of themselves and their three children.
Marites Campano was “severely and permanently injured” as a result of sepsis caused by a group A streptococcus bacterial infection “that was not timely diagnosed or treated with antibiotic therapy by her physicians and care providers” at Tripler, Chang wrote in a 77-page finding of fact.
By the time a Tripler “Rapid Response Team” intervened, Campano had been in near constant pain for approximately 48 hours and her condition deteriorated into sepsis, Chang said.
Tripler staff “fell asleep” in their responsibilities, Fried said. “I mean, it was obvious to anyone — and that’s why they ultimately admitted liability.”
Campano suffered kidney disease requiring dialysis and multiple kidney transplants and immunosuppressant medication for the remainder of her life, the judge wrote.
“This is an infection that people get all the time,” Fried said. “It’s treated (and) you never hear anything about it.”
The case went to trial in December only for damages because the government already had admitted liability. A $10 million settlement agreed to by the federal government in June was rejected by the U.S. Attorney General’s office.
The award specifies $22.4 million for Merites Campano, 41; $950,000 for her husband, who is about 43; and $450,000 each for the couple’s three children, now ages 18, 16 and 4-1/2.
The majority of the award, or about $18.5 million, is “due to required and necessary care that she’s going to need in the way of cost of kidneys, hospitalization and dialysis,” Fried said.
As a result of the kidney loss, Marites Campano was started on dialysis in July 2013 and was unable to get a kidney transplant until March 2015, the attorney said. He said the Mililani woman, a certified nursing assistant, worked at The Plaza from 2010 until her delivery.
But because of the transplant, her body is very immunosuppressed and very susceptible to infection — “for her to work as a nurse being exposed to people that have infections could really shorten her life expectancy,” Fried said.
She has to avoid simple things like gardening and contact with soil and fertilizers, and the family had to give up five dogs on a doctor’s advice because of the risk of infection to Campano, Chang, the judge, said.
The court found that the average length of time a kidney will last is about 10 years, and it will take approximately seven years in between transplants that she’ll be on dialysis, which will be required three times a week for four hours every day, Fried said.
Marites Campano was born in Ilocos Norte in the Philippines and came to the United States in 2007, according to court papers. Her husband also was born in Ilocos Norte, moving to Hawaii in 2004. In 2005 he joined the Navy. He graduated from Hawaii Pacific University and in 2014 became a licensed registered nurse in Hawaii.
The family recently relocated to San Diego, according to court documents.
©2018 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Visit The Honolulu Star-Advertiser at www.staradvertiser.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.