Cedars-Sinai Medical Center was sued Wednesday by the husband of a Black woman who succumbed to complications during childbirth in 2016. He claimed that she died from the racism of the Los Angeles hospital.
Charles Johnson IV stated that he observed the difference in Cedars' care for women of color and white women when he was taking depositions for his wrongful death suit. The case is set to be heard in Los Angeles Superior Court next week.
Johnson stated that Johnson was certain her wife would be present today and Sunday to celebrate Mother's Day with her sons if she were a Caucasian woman. Johnson spoke at a press conference outside the hospital. "The truth is that Kira Dixon Johnson was confronted with racism on April 12, 2016, as she walked into Cedars-Sinai for what she expected to be the most joyful day of her life.
Johnson, who had a scheduled Cesarean Section that took 17 minutes to deliver Langston, died 12 hours later.
"This is sloppy. It was murder," Nicholas Rowley, attorney, said. It shocked everyone that we deposed. All the health care providers, including the head (of) obstetrics here, and the head of labor & delivery, looked at it, and said, 'No, I've not seen one done so fast.'
Kira Johnson remained in the hospital for hours, despite signs of internal bleeding and the pleas of her husband.
According to the lawsuit, Charles Johnson was told by a nurse that Charles Johnson's wife wasn’t important at one point.
Rowley stated that she died of internal bleeding. Nearly 90% of her blood was found in her stomach after her death. She had her bladder lacerated and hadn't been properly sutured.
The hospital that has been fighting the malpractice suit said it was founded on principles for diversity and health care. It also rejected any mischaracterizations of its culture or values.
The statement stated that "We are actively working towards eliminating unconscious bias in healthcare and advancing equity in health care more generally." We commend Mr. Johnson's attention to the critical issue of racial disparities regarding maternal outcomes.
Kira Johnson's husband died, and she embarked on a crusade for maternal mortality reduction. This is particularly important for Black women.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, Black women died 2.5 times faster than white women before the pandemic that increased the number of deaths in childbirth.
Charles Johnson testified in support of several bills before Congress and the state Capitol in Sacramento, including a 2019 state law requiring doctors and nurses to recognize implicit bias at work and a new bill that would lower the limit on medical malpractice awards.
Johnson would have another way to sue Cedars-Sinai for damages. Johnson is also seeking an injunction to require Cedars-Sinai to make changes to protect women of color and mothers.
However, it is not easy to prove a violation of civil rights in health care because most laws require that discrimination be intentional, according to Brietta Clark, a Loyola Law School professor.
Clark stated that "compared to civil rights laws, a lot the unequal treatment we see in healthcare today doesn't seem to be explicit." Clark said, "It doesn't seem to be conscious."
Johnson's attempt to amend the malpractice case to add civil rights action was rejected by a judge. This was partly because deposition excerpts didn't show that Johnson discriminated racially in the treatment it provided.
Kimberly Gregory, an obstetrician/gynecologist at this hospital, said that she suffers from "structural racism" every single day. According to court papers, it prevents Black patients receiving the same care as whites. Kira Johnson should have returned to the operating table sooner, she said.
Dr. Sarah Kilpatrick was the chair of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department. She testified that she said to Charles Johnson, "I'm sorry. Your family was not treated well by us. ... This shouldn't happen."
Angelique Washington, a Black surgical technologist said that Kira Johnson's safety was at risk when she entered the operating room.
Washington, who is more than 30 year old, stated that she witnessed different treatment of Black women and was afraid to speak out.
Washington stated, "When I see my Black... patients, I say an additional prayer." "I pray that everything goes well. You have racism in the operating room.
Clark stated that the judge considered the evidence weak because they were general statements, and not specific to discrimination by the provider. Clark stated that Johnson's legal team must show a pattern or discrimination.
Rowley stated that amending the case would be difficult. Rowley has now gathered additional evidence from depositions. He will be able seek data, such as the number Black women who have died at Cedars, to support his claim.
He said, "Kira was killed because she was Black." "Women from color aren't treated the same as white women. This is a fact.