U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas (Topeka). Defense Verdict.
The plaintiff, a 26 year-old female, presented to the ER at Shawnee Mission Medical Center on July 9, 2012 with complaints of three days of worsening cramping, achiness and right lower abdominal pain. The plaintiff was seen by a nurse practitioner, an employee of the ER group, who ordered a pelvic ultrasound that revealed a probable 2.0cm hemorrhagic ovarian cyst. The nurse practitioner contacted the co-defendant physician on call to advise of the patient’s condition and recommend admission to the hospital for pain control and further observation. Both co-defendant physicians evaluated and observed the plaintiff over the evening of the 9th and into the morning of July 10th. Due to significant improvement in her condition, the plaintiff was discharged on the morning of the July 10th and instructed to follow-up with a physician in 2-3 days. Six days later, the plaintiff presented to Menorah Medical Center with a surgical abdomen and required an exploratory laparotomy and appendectomy for a perforated appendix. The plaintiff had several subsequent post-surgical complications but made a full recovery by August 2012. The plaintiff alleged that the nurse practitioner and both co-defendant physicians failed to properly diagnose that she had appendicitis, failed to properly appreciate that the patient’s presentation, vital signs and laboratory results were caused by appendicitis rather than an ovarian cyst, and failed to properly to take the appropriate actions to timely and properly evaluate, diagnose and treat the patient’s appendicitis. The plaintiff alleged damages of $250,000 in medical expenses and $500,000 in pain and suffering. The defendants denied the allegations, claiming that the diagnosis of the ovarian cyst was appropriate and within the standard of care. The defendants also alleged a comparative fault claim that the plaintiff failed to follow discharge instructions to see a physician 2-3 days after discharge. After seven days of trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in three and a half hours.