Alicia Cole was a successful actress in Los Angeles for decades. A Los Angeles native, she had spent many years working in the entertainment industry and 19 years as a member of the Screen Actors’ Guild. But after the discovery of uterine fibroids she worried how an invasive surgery would affect her career. After learning that the surgery would only take two days in the hospital with only a week of recovery she figured that she would get the surgery in late summer so she would recover by the fall when many shows and films were casting. But after her fateful hospital visit in August of 2006, these plans were soon derailed.
Upon her exit from the operating room she felt an extreme pain in her abdomen. What followed could only be described as nothing short of a nightmare. Her stomach grew stiff and inflamed, as the hours dragged on this pain and inflammation grew consuming her whole torso. Upon her doctor’s return to see what was clearly an infection he enlisted the help of her mother, right in her hospital room, to help treat the infection without washing his hands or using sterile equipment. The results of this blatant act of negligence were disastrous. Her doctor’s shoddy attempt to address the infection in her hospital bed were fruitless only causing more pain. After days in the hospital it was revealed that during surgery she had contracted sepsis, a flesh eating disease, and her doctor’s on the spot treatment had only made the problem worse.
Her infection turned into open wounds on her stomach and she ended up bedridden for months because of this. Before she even left the hospital she had incurred over 2 million dollars in medical bills. What followed was 3 years of daily medical treatments, 7 years of weekly doctor visits and close to a decade of physical therapy. During this time, it was revealed that the doctor that had performed the surgery had numerous accusations of medical malpractice against him and that the hospital had been given many citations for poor infection control and cleanliness standards over the years. Alicia had suffered years of pain due to the negligence caused by the lack of transparency and accountability in the healthcare system.
In addition to all this, because of the non-economic damage cap imposed by MICRA, years of Alicia’s pain and suffering was only worth $250,000. In the years since, she has played a pivotal role as an advocate and activist in the fight to overturn the unjust compensation system that MICRA has imposed.