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Jan. 11, 2013
TOPEKA The Kansas Supreme Court today released decisions in three health-related cases.
One involved a dispute over the state's calculation of Medicaid reimbursements for a small group of northeast Kansas nursing facilities specializing in care for the mentally ill.
The other two decisions upheld lower court findings in medical malpractice cases and hinged on the correctness of the instructions given to the district court juries, each of which rejected the malpractice claims.
In the Medicaid reimbursement case, Village Villa v. Kansas Health Policy Authority, the court found for the agency, which since the case was brought has been dissolved and replaced by the Health Care Finance Division at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Village Villa claimed it should have been allowed to use a more generous Medicaid reimbursement formula following sale of the facility to a new corporation. But the agency said the new corporation was controlled by the same owner and so the facilities in question were ongoing enterprises appropriately subject to the disputed reimbursement formula.
The court concluded the agency was right.
In the malpractice cases, the court upheld the verdicts, finding the jury instructions were proper in both instances, though in one case there was a dissenting opinion from justices who concluded otherwise.
In the case of Keely Foster v. Michelle A. Klaumann, M.D., Foster's parents sued after Klaumann's surgery to remove tumors from bones in their daughter's leg resulted in nerve damage impairing movement in one of the girl's feet.
The jury in the case unanimously found Klaumann not at fault and the parents subsequently appealed the case. The issue that came before the Supreme Court dealt with the correctness of the jury instructions. The court upheld the verdict and reversed an Appeals Court decision that the case be retried by the district court.
In the case of Tom Bates and Michelle Entriken v. Dodge City HealthCare group, the court also ruled jury instructions were adequate in a malpractice case brought by the parents of Hayley Bates. They claimed a nurse at Western Plains Regional Hospital failed to follow standards of care when Entriken, a diabetic, showed up at the hospital experiencing pain during her pregnancy with Hayley. The child subsequently was delivered via caesarian section and according to court documents did not breathe the first five minutes.
The child later was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and "severe spastic quadriplegia with a seizure disorder.
The jury found the nurse and hospital were not at fault in their handling of the situation.
The issue that brought the case to the Supreme Court dealt with which instructions should have been given to the jury members prior to their deliberations.
The court, after weighing the question of national versus community standards of care, concluded the instructions given the jury were appropriate.
Expert testimony during the trial suggested the problematic delivery might have been handled differently and the subsequent problems avoided had it been done at a larger, urban hospital.
The jury was instructed on community standards of care, which the defendants said were adhered to by nurse Linda Unruh who had 33 years experience.
A partial dissent was filed by Justice Dan Biles and joined by Justice Eric Rosen.
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