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Kansas Brain Injury Case Shows Doctor Discipline Can Take Years

In 2007, Maribeth Chase underwent what was supposed to be a relatively routine bit of brain surgery — if any brain surgery can be called routine. The neurosurgeon was supposed to go in and drain blood that had accumulated on the surface of her brain.

A mistake during the surgery, however, resulted in Chase suffering a brain injury that left her in a coma. She died a couple of weeks later. The active 77-year-old mother’s death left the family grief stricken. Within a week of her passing, a formal complaint with Kansas regulators had been filed in hopes of holding the doctor accountable.

It has taken seven years, but earlier this month, the state announced it had finalized an agreement with the doctor. As a result of the deal, the doctor’s license to practice is suspended for two years, but he will not have to face a further disciplinary hearing into his handling of Chase’s case. He also still has licensure in Missouri and Minnesota.

By many people’s measure, the outcome might seem to be a little too little, way too late, but Chase’s family suggests they got what they wanted.

The doctor in question has a significant history of malpractice claims. In fact, at the time he operated on Chase, he had been named in at least 16 actions alleging mistakes that resulted in one patient’s death, paralysis for several others and a need for additional surgeries for yet a few more.

Court records show he settled at least a half dozen of those cases out of court. The Chase family also settled a wrongful death suit against the doctor for just over $1 million.

The point of this post is to highlight for readers just how complicated legal processes can be when trying to hold those who may be responsible accountable for catastrophic injury or death. We think it also highlights why it’s so important to be working with experienced legal counsel in such matters.

Source: The Kansas City Star, “Johnson County neurosurgeon’s medical license suspended after patient’s death 7 years ago, ” Alan Bavley, Feb. 14, 2014