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LA County Settles EMS Claim for $250k

The County of Los Angeles has settled a negligence claim filed by the family of a 17 year old victim who was allowed to decline aid, but later lapsed into a vegetative coma where he has remained for over two years.

The case arose on November 17, 2009, when Andriy Sviridov of Los Angeles was injured in an altercation in a McDonald’s parking lot in West Hollywood. LA County firefighters responded and evaluated  Sviridov, and allowed him to decline aid. According the department records, his vitals signs were normal and he did not want to be examined or transported. He was release to go home with his older brother.

The following morning L.A. City FD paramedics responded to Sviridov’s home where he was  unconscious, pupils fixed and dilated, and suffering from bleeding in his brain. He has been in a persistent vegetative state since.

The family filed a claim against the county alleging the EMS personnel were negligent in not transporting Sviridov, but the claim was denied. In July, 2010, the family filed suit in Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles. The county opted to settle the case for $250,000. Here is part of the settlement documentation, which explains more of the details of the case: LA County Claim

Incidentally, the age of consent for medical treatment in California is 15 years. See FAMILY CODE SECTION 6929, which read as follows:

6922.  (a) A minor may consent to the minor’s medical care or dental care if all of the following conditions are satisfied:

   (1) The minor is 15 years of age or older. …

In terms of why the county settled, the settlement documentation points to two relevant factors

First “After returning to the station, one member of the [LA County] crew apparently stated he had noticed that Sviridov was incontinent of urine. The paramedic completing the EMS form did not note that condition at the scene but added to the report.“

Second, when Sviridov was found the next day by LAFD medics, he had a small hematoma to his left occipital lobe which was not mentioned in the LA County reports

The case was titled Andriv Sviridov. et at v. County of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC 441126. More on the story.

Comments - Add Yours

  • CareerParamedic

    $250K is not much of a settlement, and it really isn’t clear where there may have been negligence, a late note about urine incontinence or a head injury that may have occurred after the LA County firefighters evaluated the patient; those are pretty weak claims to me. It sounds to me like LA County wrote a check to simply make this case go away. If there was a legitimate claim of negligence, I suspect the award to the custodian of a 17 year old in a vegetative state would have been in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, as a 17 year old in a vegetative state may have many very costly years of care ahead of him.

    • http://firelawblog.com Curt Varone

      CareerParamedic

      Good analysis. I agree. The case points out the critical importance of documenting refusals and informed refusals. Even if we do everything else right, if we flub documenting the refusal we can find ourselves in trouble.

  • Harvey Broadway

    I was a paramedic at the City of Los Angeles Fire Department assigned to FS 60 and 57 – and I can tell you that the age of consent for AMA is not 15 years of age in the City of Los Angeles or the County of Los Angeles – Please check http://ems.dhs.lacounty.gov/policies/Ref800/834c.pdf – which is dated as a revision Oct. 31, 2009. This person was not supposed to be signed out AMA in LA Co.

    • CurtVarone

      Harvey

      EXCELLENT POINT and thank you for pointing that out. Take a look at the following:

      6920. Subject to the limitations provided in this chapter,
      notwithstanding any other provision of law, a minor may consent to
      the matters provided in this chapter, and the consent of the minor’s
      parent or guardian is not necessary.

      6921. A consent given by a minor under this chapter is not subject
      to disaffirmance because of minority.

      6922. (a) A minor may consent to the minor’s medical care or dental
      care if all of the following conditions are satisfied:
      (1) The minor is 15 years of age or older.
      (2) The minor is living separate and apart from the minor’s
      parents or guardian, whether with or without the consent of a parent
      or guardian and regardless of the duration of the separate residence.
      (3) The minor is managing the minor’s own financial affairs,
      regardless of the source of the minor’s income.
      (b) The parents or guardian are not liable for medical care or
      dental care provided pursuant to this section.
      (c) A physician and surgeon or dentist may, with or without the
      consent of the minor patient, advise the minor’s parent or guardian
      of the treatment given or needed if the physician and surgeon or
      dentist has reason to know, on the basis of the information given by
      the minor, the whereabouts of the parent or guardian.

      So you are 100% correct – for minors who are living with and under the care and control of their parents. A 15 year old may only consent if living separate and apart.

      • Harvey Broadway

        I’m unaware that we have established that Mr. Sviridov was living without his parents. Never the less, even with your reference, I can’t imagine leaving a patient of 17 years old. I probably would’ve liked to given the presentation of the patient but I wouldn’t have been allowed to under department and LA Co. DHS directive. I believe in this case they were not only negligent but guilty of abandoning the patient as court documents don’t even show that they had the patient sign a refusal AMA – nor did they make base hospital contact prior to releasing the patient which I would have done at the very least. I worked in LA City – North Hollywood FS 60, Hollywood FS 82 & FS 35, Chatsworth FS 104, Venice FS 69, and South Central FS 57 – I can tell you that this was not allowed.. I have friends at LA Co. FD as well as many other departments in this area and region whom I attended Paramedic school with at MT SAC – we were expressly taught not to do this regardless of what state law or protocol says – to us, this person was a minor and not able to refuse treatment and transport. Thank you for your time and consideration sir – thank you for your service – and thank you for your books.

  • Harvey Broadway

    It’s funny – I’m writing a report for Legal Aspect of Fire and I research this case so when I went to do the reference citations I did Varone, C. (2012) and then I look at my previous citation for the text and it’s Varone, J. C. (2012) – So I had to look twice and realized you were the same.. Funny..

    • CurtVarone

      Harvey

      Based on your input I just updated Legal Considerations 3rd Edition to make it clear that 15 year olds in CA can only consent if living separate and apart, otherwise it is 18!!!!

      • Harvey Broadway

        I feel honored to even garner your attention sir. I’m by no means an authority. Thank you for your time and consideration – have a great evening and weekend.

      • Harvey Broadway

        LA Co. DHS does not refer to or recognize a minor living without their parent’s alone as emancipation without a declaration of emancipation pursuant to section 7122 of the California Family Code and furthermore the minor must have the declaration, be living without the parents, and responsible for their own financial affairs. I have seen evidence of none of those stipulations. I don’t believe this person was emancipated or able to refuse treatment and transport in Los Angeles County – and I believe that your interpretation of 6922 pertains more to a minor’s ability to refuse medical and dental treatment that his or her parent’s recommend. I have responded to medical calls on many occasions, where a parent has called for treatment and transport of their son or daughter and the son or daughter vehemently oppose treatment and transport – as not being emancipated or having the ability to refuse I have had such minors arrested for treatment and transport against their will – but I believe that this is the correct interpretation of the California law you cite – not refusal of treatment and transport without a parent present or making the call for the minor.