Kansas is known to be one of the most conservative jurisdictions for jury verdicts in medical malpractice cases (when we say “conservative,” we mean low jury verdicts). However, there is one Kansas medical malpractice verdict that stands out from the rest.
In the case MLM, by and through Midwest Trust Co. of Missouri Inc., conservator v. Lisa Gard, M.D., decided on March 13, 2009, a Kansas jury awarded $12.1 million ($11 million for future medical expenses, $800,000 for future economic losses, and $300,000 for past noneconomic damages) for a then 8-year-old girl who presented to a local hospital emergency department in 2006 with complaints of’ severe neck pain. pain in her arm, and numbness and tingling in both of her hands and her feet. The medical malpractice lawsuit claimed that the little girl was treated negligently in the emergency department and that the medical negligence resulted in the girl ending up a quadriplegic as a result of medical malpractice.
During the first emergency department visit, the emergency department doctor did a full physical examination that she determined to be normal. Nonetheless, the doctor performed a rapid strep test that was positive and, based upon the positive result, she diagnosed streptococcal pharyngitis. The doctor discharged the child home in the care of her parents, with pain medication and antibiotics to fight the strep infection.
The girl’s father brought her back to the emergency department about a day-and-a-half later because of her progressing weakness and paralysis. She was flown to a larger regional hospital where her serious medical condition was diagnosed: she had a rare congenital spinal cord defect known as an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) that had hemorrhaged and was causing spinal cord compression. Surgery was performed to remove the AVM but the delay in operating allegedly caused permanent spinal cord damage resulting in quadriplegia.
The resulting medical malpractice claim against the first emergency department doctor and the first hospital alleged the child’s neurological condition should have been properly assessed to rule out a neurological problem, that an appropriate neurological consultation should have been obtained, that the girl should have been transferred to a hospital with more appropriate pediatric emergency resources, and that the misdiagnosis led to the unnecessary delay in diagnosing the hemorrhaging AVM.
The defense argued to the jury that the girl and her parents failed to provide accurate information regarding the child’s symptoms, that the diagnosis of streptococcal pharyngitis as the cause of the neck pain was reasonable, that an earlier transfer to another hospital would not have made a difference in the outcome, that her life expectancy was not as long as the plaintiff’s experts testified (thereby reducing the cost of future medical care), and that the child could be independent and employable (thereby reducing the future economic loss claim).
The jury sided with the plaintiff and against the defendants.
If a medical provider in Kansas or in another U.S. state was negligent and the medical negligence caused injuries and losses, a medical malpractice attorney may be able to help in bringing a claim for medical malpractice damages. Visit our website or telephone us toll free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may be able to help you with your medical malpractice claim.
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