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Crime and Courts

Court: Doctors Who Misdiagnose Sexual Abuse Not Liable For Malpractice Under Kansas Law

The Kansas Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit charging KU Hospital with malpractice when one of its doctors reported a case of child abuse.

A Kansas court has ruled that doctors who mistakenly diagnose a case of child abuse are not liable for malpractice under Kansas law.

The Kansas Court of Appeals said the Kansas law requiring doctors to report suspected cases of child abuse protects them from civil liability.

The case arose when the parents of a nine-month-old girl brought her to KU Hospital for a respiratory infection. After examining the baby, the doctor suspected sexual abuse and alerted the police.

Sexual abuse was ruled out, but the parents sued the hospital and doctor. The trial court dismissed the suit and the appeals court agreed. Overland Park lawyer Brad Watson represented the doctor.

“The statute is designed to protect health care providers and provide them with immunity. Except in the face of malicious intent, which of course is not present in a situation like this.”

The appeals court said allowing the lawsuit to proceed would have a chilling effect on doctors’ willingness to report abuse.