Man threatens lawsuit after Kaiser Permanente Colorado postpones cancer surgery due to coronavirus

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CENTENNIAL, Colo. (KDVR) — Lots of patients are still coming and going from the Kaiser Permanente facility in Centennial but Rob Kyker isn’t one of them.

The 60-year-old’s procedure to remove skin cancer from his scalp on March 30 was delayed indefinitely because of the coronavirus.

“I get it, skin cancer is not on the same level as pancreatic cancer, or maybe lung cancer. However, it’s been in my body on my scalp and below my scalp now for five months,” he said.

Kyker filed a grievance with his medical provider Kaiser Permanente and received a letter dated March 26 that reads in part, “To be clear, your basal cell skin cancer still needs treatment but national guidelines now recommend that treatment be delayed for a period of time.”

“There’s no doubt in my mind that it is growing,” said Kyker, who strongly disagrees with Kaiser Permanente’s decision to postpone his procedure. “This is not elective surgery and I don’t think this was Gov. Polis’ intent.”

The executive order from Colorado Gov. Jared Polis reads in part, “Surgeries or procedures….may proceed if: (1)There is a threat to the patient’s life …or “(3) there is a risk of metastasis or progression of staging of a disease or condition if the surgery or procedure is not performed.”

Kyker said he’s willing to self-quarantine for a week or more before and to let medical staff take his temperature the day before surgery but said postponing indefinitely is putting him at risk.

“If you’re a caregiver and you’re not willing to take some risks, then maybe you’re in the wrong field,” he said.

Kyker told FOX31 he’s considering legal action if Kaiser Permanente doesn’t reverse its decision.

Kaiser Permanente Colorado provided the following statement to the Problem Solvers:

“Given the impact of the corona virus on health care systems and potential exposure risk to individuals, in alignment with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Surgeon General and the American College of Surgeons, the physicians of Kaiser Permanente are clinically evaluating all elective procedures scheduled for the next few weeks to determine those that can be safely postponed. These may include select cancer surgeries, when appropriate, after physicians and their patients discuss options. These steps will help to ensure we can continue to provide the high-quality care our members need while also preparing for the anticipated increase in the number of patients with COVID-19.

The health and safety of our members, patients, employees and communities remain our number one priority.  National societies are recommending delaying many types of cancer surgery, in part because of evidence of serious complications from COVID-19 after surgery.

We understand that this may be worrisome, but this is a necessary step to understand the risks to patients with cancer, slow the spread of COVID-19, and ensure that we continue to have the resources, capacity, and staff available to care for our members and the communities we serve.

Kaiser Permanente has been working on confronting highly infectious diseases for years, and we are confident we can safely treat patients who have been infected with this virus, while limiting the risk to other patients, members and employees. We are deeply grateful to our medical teams, staff, and employees who are expertly and compassionately caring for and protecting our members, patients, communities, and each other.”

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