Although he was a gifted athlete who excelled at basketball, John Ritchie suffered health problems for more than a decade related to a heart condition.
Finally, midway through his 30’s, doctors determined Ritchie needed a heart transplant. After a five-year wait on the transplant list at UCLA Medical Center, Ritchie and his family thought their prayers had been answered when a donor was identified. All seemed well after the surgery.
But doctors determined there was a need for one more visit to the operating room: as a result of the dialysis that was performed during the transplant, they wanted to replace a defibrillator and pacemaker and also install a dialysis line in his neck. though the medical staff said it would be a routine procedure, things did not go as planned.
A team of eight doctors were in the operating rom but a medical resident still learning the craft was allowed to place the line in Richie’s neck without the permission of the patient or his family.
In the process, Ritchie’s carted artery was pierced twice. After the procedure, medical staff know he was brain dead and had no hope of ever reawakening.
Yet over a period of almost two months they went to extraordinary measures to cover up their negligence - lying about Ritchie’s condition. and even having an occupational physical therapist work with him. Eventually, his family realized the different stories were not adding up, and they demanded a meeting to determine the truth: the punctured carted artery caused a traumatic brain injury from severe lack of oxygen.
He was barely 40 at the time of his death, leaving behind a wife of just 37. John’s family tried to pursue justice, but California’s arbitrary MICRA cap on pain and suffering shielded those who had acted with such blatant negligence from being held accountable.