The Iowa Board of Appeals recently unanimously approved paying $3.7 million to settle three malpractice lawsuits filed against the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC).
Although the state denies the allegations, Iowa's Attorney General's Office recommended a two-million-dollar settlement with the family of a woman who died on December 9, 2017 after receiving a feeding tube.
According to the lawsuit filed by the woman's husband and children, she was admitted to UIHC on Nov. 12, 2017. UIHC practitioners examined her esophagus, stomach, and small intestine and placed a feeding tube.
However, the lawsuit alleged that the tube was improperly placed in the esophagus rather than the stomach and that post-procedure X-rays to confirm placement were not performed. The suit further alleged that the woman received feedings without X-rays being taken and the feedings caused aspiration pneumonia in her lungs. Experts say that the pneumonia caused the woman's death.
The lawsuit claimed that "breach of the standard of care" was the probable cause of the woman's pneumonia and death.
UI Physicians, a multi-specialty medical and surgical group representing 1,000 UI physicians, will pay $500,000 of the settlement. The remaining $1.5 million will be paid by the state's general fund.
In the second lawsuit, the state will pay one million dollars to a man and his wife who accused UIHC of failing to obtain "informed consent" before performing back surgery on the man in Feb. 2015. The suit further alleged that UI physicians improperly diagnosed and treated the conditions caused by the back surgery, which led to the man becoming a paraplegic.
The couple filed suit against UIHC, claiming its providers "negligently performed a spinal fusion resulting in significant neurological injury." The state's general fund will pay half of the settlement and UI physicians will pay the other half.
The third malpractice lawsuit alleged that a 74-year-old woman was healthy when a UI physician diagnosed her with a non-cancerous tumor in the lining of her brain in 2015. The lawsuit claimed that the physician recommended surgical removal, even though there was no documented growth, neurological defects, or cerebral edema associated with the tumor.
UIHC claimed that both options were discussed, as well as the risk of surgery, and that the patient decided on surgery.
The lawsuit further accused the UI physician of failing to treat the Staphylococcus aureus that was discovered in a preoperative test with antibiotics before surgery. The woman allegedly developed an infection that led to additional surgeries—during one of which she suffered a stroke—a stay in ICU, and time in skilled recovery.
The lawsuit claimed the woman now suffers from neurological deficits, significant memory loss, and vision problems that cause her to fall and is no longer able to live independently.
The woman's daughters filed the suit, which UI Physicians will pay $700,000 to settle. Vanessa Miller "State agrees to $3.7 million in settlements for alleged UIHC malpractice" thegazette.com (December 7, 2020).