$20M lawsuit alleges negligence of doctor at LMH caused man to suffer brain injury, partial paralysis

photo by: Journal-World File Photo

The Lawrence Memorial Hospital emergency room sign is shown in this file photo from 2008.

Updated at 3:40 p.m. Thursday:

A man who was taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital for stroke symptoms suffered debilitating injuries and partial paralysis as the result of a doctor’s negligence, a lawsuit alleges.

Lawrence attorney Jerry Levy wrote in court documents that his client seeks damages of $20 million for himself and his wife.

Richard Peasah was taken to LMH by ambulance and arrived at 6:05 a.m. on Sept. 30, 2018. His transfer to the University of Kansas hospital’s stroke program was delayed for more than eight hours because of negligence by Dr. Andrew Humpert, a hospitalist with Lawrence Emergency Medicine Associates, a complaint filed Jan. 23 in Douglas County District Court alleges.

Parties related to the physician have filed an answer to the lawsuit that contests some of the legal arguments in the case; however, an attorney for the parties declined to comment further on the allegations.

“Patient privacy regulations constrain our ability to discuss the specifics of patient care, so we will not comment on the allegations at this time,” attorney Trevin Wray, of Overland Park, told the Journal-World via email Wednesday morning.

The complaint contains a detailed overview of Peasah’s care and various tests that day. It states that in an initial exam at 6:48 a.m., a doctor determined that Peasah had a score of 3 on the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale, or NIHSS. The scale helps health care providers assess common stroke symptoms and their severity.

That doctor admitted Peasah to the hospital’s telemetry unit. By Humpert’s evaluation around 8 a.m., Peasah’s condition was worsening and his NIHSS score had doubled to 6, according to the complaint.

Humpert’s assessment of Peasah’s condition at that time was acute stroke and hypertension, according to the complaint. However, rather than issuing “STAT,” or urgent, orders, Humpert issued a routine order for a neurology consultation, an MRI of the brain and other imaging, the complaint alleges.

At 1 p.m., a neurologist saw Peasah and ordered further testing. When the results came back, he called KU and made the decision to transfer Peasah there, according to the complaint. The neurologist’s consultation report, signed at 4:06 p.m., noted that Peasah’s NIHSS score had again doubled, to 12.

There, he had a thrombectomy, or surgery to remove a blood clot, and he was not discharged until Oct. 15, 2018, according to the complaint. Since then, he has been undergoing rehabilitation at KU and health care centers in Omaha, Neb., Chicago and LMH, according to the complaint.

“As a direct result of the negligence and carelessness of the defendants, Mr. Peasah has suffered a debilitating and devastating brain injury resulting in multiple injuries, including hemiplegia,” or paralysis of one side of the body, the complaint alleges. “The defendants negligently and carelessly failed to timely recognize the progression of the stroke of Mr. Peasah and failed to obtain a STAT consultation with a neurologist.”

Overland Park-based attorneys Maureen Welsh and Wray, of Simpson Logback Lynch Norris PA, are representing Humpert and LEMA, “a professional association that contracts with Lawrence Memorial Hospital to provide physician and mid-level provider services” for LMH emergency department patients, according to court documents.

The defendants’ answers to each allegation in the complaint largely state that they do not have sufficient information to admit or deny the statements made. The answer says the plaintiff has not stated a valid claim for relief and that the complaint invokes the principles of comparative negligence, “requiring the comparison of negligence of all persons and entities, both party and non-party, shown to have contributed” to the alleged injuries.

Kansas law also stipulates that a health care provider has no “vicarious responsibility” for injuries caused by another health care provider, the answer notes.

Levy did not respond to an email or phone message from the Journal-World.

Amy Northrop, director of communications, marketing and community relations for LMH Health, said via email Thursday that the hospital does not wish to comment at this time.

Kansas law previously held a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages — damages for pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment and the like rather than lost wages, for instance — that can be awarded in medical malpractice cases. However, a Kansas Supreme Court decision in 2019 struck down that cap as unconstitutional.

Court records indicate that the lawsuit is set for a case management conference via telephone in early April. Both parties have demanded a jury trial.

Contact Mackenzie Clark

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