NOVATO, Calif. - A widow who lost her husband suddenly almost four years ago spoke out after winning a multi-million dollar malpractice lawsuit against Kaiser Permanente.
She said she wanted to raise awareness about sepsis and the importance of in-person consultation with doctors.
"My husband was so funny, witty and charming. He was very healthy," Christina Flach said her late husband, Ken Flach of Marin County, would be alive today if he had received proper attention and treatment.
She said Ken initially suffered a bad cold and died in a matter of days.
"I can't let his death just go away without doing something about it," she said.
Ken Flach was a professional tennis player, a two-time Wimbledon doubles champion and an Olympic gold medalist.
His wife recently won a $3 million judgement in her malpractice lawsuit against Kaiser Permanente.
"I have to use his name in a way that will help other people," said Christina. "You have to be your biggest advocate."
Flach was 54 when he died in March 2018, just days after trying to get an appointment with his doctor at Kaiser Permanente when he suffered severe symptoms.
In an excerpt from that phone call, Flach said, "It's like fire, you know, burning in my chest."
Flach received only a phone consultation with his doctor who did not schedule an in-person appointment for the same day and failed to send him to emergency care.
Christina said she rushed her husband to the hospital the next morning but it was too late. He was suffering from sepsis, a blood infection and his organs started shutting down. He died at age 54.
"Not being seen. Not getting an x-ray. It got so out of control. Then it turns into sepsis," said Christina.
In response, Kaiser Permanente did not directly address what transpired before Flach was taken to the hospital, but said in a written statement: "A sepsis care countdown begins as soon as at-risk patients enter the hospital or show signs of Sepsis, enabling aggressive early intervention and monitoring."
Christina shared cell phone video of her husband where he's seen dancing with his stepson.
She said after her nearly 4-year long legal battle with Kaiser Permanente, "I'm angry. I'm sad. I'm scared. It's awful."
Christina is advising people to get a second opinion and don't delay getting care if something doesn't feel right.
She said she'll continue to speak out to get Kaiser Permanente to make changes, including encouraging doctors to see patients in-person.