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'This didn't have to happen, this should not have happened'

SEATTLE -- A local woman says delays by Group Health left her disabled. She settled with the organization for $2.5 million, but she's still fighting to get the health care system to change its ways.

Shari Stoican said what happened to her was both tragic and completely avoidable, and she doesn't want it to happen to anyone else.

Stoican used to be an avid boater and fisherwoman, but that was before a rapidly-growing spinal cyst left her partially paralyzed.

"This didn't have to happen, this should not have happened, and ... I don't want anyone to ever go through this again," she said.

Both Stoican and her attorney, Jeff Campiche, say Group Heath tried to save money by cutting back on MRI tests, which they say cost Stoican her independence and outdoor lifestyle.

The ordeal started in June 2010.

"Woke up the next morning, rolled out of bed to say my prayers and I couldn't get up," she said.

Over the next three weeks, her condition deteriorated to the point where she was falling down two or three times a day and she eventually lost control of her bladder and bowels.

"And then that night, things got very, very bad and I was very, very frightened," she said.

Stoican said Group Health officials repeatedly told her it was just back pain that would resolve itself. It wasn't until an outside doctor ordered an MRI that Stoican said Group Health began paying attention.

She had surgery days later, but the damage was already done.

"This case will reoccur unless Group Health reevaluates its focus on saving money on diagnostic tests," Campiche said.

Group Health officials say privacy laws keep them from going into detail about the case, but they did release a statement, saying, "It's always unfortunate when our members have a less than positive experience with Group Health."

Stoican just wants Group Health to change its practices so nobody else is forced to deal with a similar disability.

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