Memorial settles Spanish-translation suit for $1 million

By: DANIEL CHACÓN
June 2, 2010
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At Memorial Hospital, $1 million was lost in translation.

The story started in January 2007, when 2-month-old Luzdeestrella Flores-Rios was checked into Memorial to undergo a surgical procedure to remove her left kidney.

Her parents, Jesus O. Flores and Marisela Rios, “who speak and understand little to no English, were led to believe that the surgery was simple,” court documents state. “But to their horror, the day after the surgery, Luzdeestrella began to deteriorate.”

The infant suffered complete kidney failure as a result of the surgery and is now being treated in Denver for dialysis and is on a kidney transplant waiting list, documents state.

Flores and Rios, of Colorado Springs, sued Memorial in May 2009, claiming the city-owned health system failed to provide consent forms in Spanish or offer trained interpreters.

The parents “did not understand the very significant risks of the procedure, including complete kidney failure and a life of dialysis and kidney transplants, nor were they informed of alternatives to the surgery, including monitoring the kidney for months,” documents state.

Memorial and the girl’s parents recently settled for $1 million, according to a report from City Attorney Patricia Kelly.

Memorial paid a $25,000 deductible, and the rest of the settlement was paid by Memorial’s insurer, according to Kelly’s report, which the city released late Tuesday.

The settlement is the first of the year for Memorial. Last year, Memorial and its insurer paid $3.07 million to settle nine lawsuits.

Memorial declined to comment about the latest lawsuit and settlement.

“Out of respect for the patient and her family’s privacy, (Memorial Health System)elected not to provide detailed information regarding the care of this patient,” Memorial spokesman Brian Newsome said in an e-mail. “In the best interest of the child involved, we agreed to a settlement regarding this matter. Our thoughts are with this family.”

Denver-based attorney Gary Blum, who represents the girl and her parents, also declined to comment.
The Gazette was unable to reach Flores or Rios on Wednesday.

According to court documents, Luzdeestrella was born at Memorial on Nov. 5, 2006, about four weeks premature. Before she was discharged four days later, Dr. Bruce Blyth, a pediatric urologist from Children’s Hospital in Denver, evaluated Luzdeestrella “because of an alleged cystic kidney,” documents state.

On Dec. 7, 2006, Blyth told Luzdeestrella’s parents and older sister, who speaks English and acted as a translator, that the girl’s left kidney would have to be removed, but the doctor, who performed the procedure, didn’t explain the risks or alternatives, documents state.

Neither Blyth nor the parents requested a Spanish consent form or an interpreter on the day of the surgery, documents state.

Call the writer at 476-1623

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