Jury rules against Wichita rehab hospital

A Sedgwick County jury this afternoon returned a verdict of $430,000 plus punitive damages against a Wichita rehabilitation hospital.

Judge Tim Henderson will decide punitive damages at a later hearing.

The jury found in favor of James Kerns, 75, who received a severe infection while at Wesley Rehabilitation Hospital.

Lawyers Mark Hutton and Darin Hayes presented evidence during the two-week trial showing that a nurse dropped a bandage while changing it. She then picked it up off the floor and replaced it on Kern's wound.

In the award for punitive damages, the jury decided the hospital showed reckless disregard for the patient's welfare after hearing claims the nurse worked there while impaired on drugs.

Earlier this year, the nurse was convicted of possession of methamphetamines. During the lawsuit, she refused to answer questions about possible drug use, the lawyers said, invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

The hospital argued that the infection came from e. coli, one of the most common forms of bacteria and that Kerns could have picked it up somewhere else.