Insurer defends self in transplant case

Dec. 25, 2007 at 7:23 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Dec. 25 (UPI) -- An insurance company is defending its decision to deny a liver transplant for a California girl who later died, saying experts were on its side.

CIGNA Health Care President David Cordani and the company's chief medical officer, Jeffrey Kang, said in an e-mail to employees that the company had done all it could for Nataline Sarkisyan of Northridge, Calif., who died last week, the Los Angeles Daily News reported Tuesday.

Doctors at UCLA Medical Center had said Sarkisyan could have been saved by a transplant, the newspaper reported. But Kang and Cordani said the decision to deny one was made after "we went directly to not one, but two, independent experts in the field who agree that the procedure in question, given the patient's particular circumstances, would not have been an effective or appropriate treatment."

They said CIGNA went "above and beyond" the family's medical plan and "offered to provide payment in the event the procedure should be completed."

Still, Mark Geragos, an attorney representing the family, said the offer to provide the transplant came only after the girl was taken off life support and moments before she died. The family plans to sue.

Sarkisyan had suffered from recurrent leukemia since the age of 14.

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