LOS ANGELES ( Associated Press) – The husband of a black woman who died hours after childbirth in 2016 sued Cedars-Sinai Medical Hospital on Wednesday, saying the culture of racism at the famed Los Angeles Medical Center led to her death. .
Charles Johnson IV said he discovered a disparity in the care given to women of color at Cedar compared to white women during a statement in a wrongful death trial that went to trial next week in Los Angeles Superior Court.
“There is no doubt in my mind that my wife would be here today and here on Sunday to celebrate Mother’s Day with her boys if she were a Caucasian woman,” Johnson told a news conference outside the hospital. “The reality is that on April 12, 2016, when we went to Cedars-Sinai Hospital in what was expected to be the happiest day of our lives, Kira Dixon Johnson’s biggest risk factor was racism.”
Johnson died about 12 hours after having a scheduled caesarean section, which was done in 17 minutes to deliver the couple’s second son, Langston.
The lawsuit says that despite signs that she was bleeding internally, she remained lethargic for hours without being re-admitted to the operating room, until it was too late.
“It’s sloppy. It was butchery,” said attorney Nick Rowley. “It shocked everyone that we asked all health care providers, even the head of (obstetrics), the chief of labor and delivery here. looked up and said ‘No, I’ve never seen anyone so fast.'”
Rowley said the surgeon who performed the C-section had incised Kira Johnson’s bladder and was not implanted properly. When she was finally brought to the operating room, about 90% of her blood was found in her abdomen.
The hospital, which has fought the malpractice lawsuit, said in a statement that it was founded on the principles of diversity and health care for all and rejected “any misrepresentation of our culture and values”.
“We are actively working to eradicate unconscious bias in health care and move forward more broadly in health care,” the statement said. “We applaud Mr Johnson for addressing the important issue of racial disparities in maternal outcomes.”
Kira Johnson’s death prompted her husband to advocate for reducing maternal mortality, which is particularly high for black women.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, before the pandemic, which increased the deaths of women of color during childbirth, black women died at 2.5 times the rate of white women.
Charles Johnson has testified before Congress and at the state capitol in Sacramento in support of a variety of bills, including a 2019 state law that requires doctors and nurses to identify implicit bias at work, and more recently in a bill that would remove the cap on medical malpractice. Prize.
Johnson will not benefit from changes to the malpractice law that currently puts the award at $250,000. The matter is set for hearing on May 11, although recent court filings indicated that the two sides were close to reaching an agreement.
The civil rights case would give Johnson another chance to collect damages and hold Cedars-Sinai accountable. He is also seeking an injunction that would require the hospital to make changes to protect mothers and women of color.
Johnson said his misconduct trial had exposed “massive racism,” with witnesses saying his wife was treated unfairly because of her race.
An obstetrician and gynecologist at the hospital, Dr. Kimberly Gregory testified that she lives with “structural racism” every day and that it prevents black patients from receiving the same care as whites, according to court papers. She also said that Kira Johnson should have been back in the operating room sooner.
Dr. Sarah Kilpatrick, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, testified that she told Charles Johnson: “I’m sorry. We failed your family. … It shouldn’t have happened.”
Angelique Washington, a Black surgical technologist who worked in the operating room, said that “patient safety was out the door” when Kira Johnson arrived.
Washington, who has more than 30 years of experience, said she regularly treated black women differently but was afraid to speak up.
“When I see my black… patients come in, I say an extra prayer,” Washington said. “I say a silent prayer that all will be well. Because you have too much racism in the operating room.”