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Family gets $4.2M after Waianae man who sought care for sore throat dies

By Allyson Blair, Reporter
Published: Wednesday, September 14th 2016, 5:14 pm HST
Updated: Wednesday, September 14th 2016, 5:59 pm HST

HONOLULU (Hawaii News Now) -Rachel Marrero’s favorite picture of her husband, Antonio, is one of the last the family took together. “It’s been hard every day without him. We miss him so much,” she said.

The photo was taken by a professional photographer — a birthday gift for Rachel Marrero that she says shows off her husband’s bright smile.

Shortly after it was taken, her 32-year-old husband would go to the emergency room at Waianae Comprehensive Health Center to seek care for a fever and sore throat and end up dead.

“He went right after work and he never came home,” Marrero said.

She said an ER doctor found an abscess and made an appointment for her husband to see a specialist later that night.

And then, the family’s attorney said, that doctor did an unnecessary procedure to check it out himself.

“The doctor in our view did not properly evaluate the airway,” attorney Rick Fried said. “It was swollen because the tonsils were swollen. As a result, he became unable to breathe. There was no anesthesiologist available. He gave them too much of the sedative drug and an airway was not placed in time.”

The federal government has agreed to pay out a $4.2 million settlement in the case. And at a news conference Wednesday, Waianae Coast Chief Medical Officer Stephen Bradley publicly apologized for what happened.

“On behalf of the Waianae Comp, I want to express my deepest condolences to the Marrero family. We have implemented significant changes to our systems to prevent any reoccurrence,” he said.

Since the accident, health center employees have gotten training on updated policies and procedures,” Bradley said. Also, additional staff were hired, including a new ER director.

The identity of the doctor involved in the case has not been disclosed, but he still works at the medical center.

“We have made modifications but the doctor is still employed,” Bradley said.

Marrero accepted the health center’s apology, but said money can never replace her husband’s love.

“I don’t hate or judge,” she said. “I just hope that the comp does make everything better for other families so they don’t have to go through what we go through every day.”