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Hospital cleared in man’s death from pancreatitis

A Clay County jury sided unanimously with the defense in a suit by the family of a 51-year-old man who died of pancreatitis at North Kansas City Hospital.

Scott Janeczko was admitted to the hospital on Aug. 2, 2020, complaining of abdominal pain for several days’ duration.

After an initial diagnosis of severe acute pancreatitis, the defendants waited too long to intervene, the complaint alleged, despite alarming changes to his blood pressure, vital signs and blood test results. Janeczko died in the hospital on Aug. 4.

According to defense attorney Debra Gullett of the Malkmus Law Firm, a plaintiffs’ expert testified that the hospital failed to diagnose the onset of sepsis as early as noon on Aug. 3, a condition that could have been treated sooner with antibiotics.

Defense experts disagreed, testifying that the accepted standards of care support the doctor’s decision to treat the patient with fluids.

After a four-day trial, the jury concurred. Attorneys for the family declined to comment. No appeal was filed.

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Defense verdict

Medical malpractice, wrongful death

Venue: Clay County Circuit Court

Case Number/Date: 21CY-CV08220/Feb. 9, 2023

Judge: David Chamberlain

Plaintiff’s Experts: Dr. Eric Gluck, Swedish Hospital, Chicago (critical care/pulmonology); Kurt Krueger, John Ward Economics, Prairie Village, Kansas (economic)

Defendant’s Experts: Dr. Eric Bravo, Baptist Health, Little Rock, Arkansas (internal medicine); Dr. Mark Thoelke, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis (internal medicine)

Special damages: Plaintiffs sought past and future economic and noneconomic damages totaling $1,793 million

Caption: Christina Janeczko, Catherine Janeczko, Jami Collins, Amy Guyett and Frank Janeczko v. Meritas Health Corporation and Stephenson C. Hudson, D.O.

Plaintiffs’ Attorneys: Jason Osteen and Sydney Dowell, Dempsey, Kingsland & Osteen, Kansas City

Defendants’ Attorneys: Brian Malkmus and Debra Gullett, Malkmus Law Firm, Springfield

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