North Liberty man sues Coralville clinic over wife's suicide

Suit claims clinic failed to properly treat woman for thyroid condition

The husband of a North Liberty woman who committed suicide on April 3, 2010, is suing the Coralville Healthcare Clinic and a nurse practitioner there on allegations they failed to properly diagnose the woman with Hashimoto’s disease and treat her for the condition.

Kathleen Ropp became a patient at the Coralville Healthcare Clinic, 2180 Norcor Ave., on June 2, 2008, according to the lawsuit filed by her husband, Kevin Ropp, last week in Johnson County District Court. She met with nurse practitioner Jennifer Swearingen, who ordered a variety of laboratory tests, according to the lawsuit.

Swearingen told Ropp she would inform her of the test results when they came back, the lawsuit alleges. On June 11, 2008, the labs returned showing high thyroid antibodies but, according to the lawsuit, Swearingen didn’t tell Ropp or treat her for the abnormal thyroid levels.

On Oct. 7, 2008, Ropp filled out a questionnaire at the Coralville clinic indicating she was experiencing “moderately-severe depression,” the lawsuit states. Swearingen diagnosed Ropp with situational adjustment reaction and treated her for that condition, according to the suit.

Ropp returned to the clinic on March 24, 2010, complaining of feelings of anxiety, depression, sleeplessness and forgetfulness. On March 31, according to the lawsuit, Swearingen spoke with Ropp about her symptoms, which were severe enough to take time off work.

Ropp killed herself April 3, 2010, at age 32, according to the lawsuit. The Johnson County Medical Examiner performed an autopsy on Ropp and found she had Hashimoto’s disease, a treatable thyroid condition that has been linked to severe depression and suicide, the lawsuit states.

Kevin Ropp is accusing the Coralville clinic and Swearingen of failing to appropriately evaluate, test and treat Kathleen Ropp, constituting “medical negligence.”

Their “conduct was a cause of a loss of chance of survival and of Kathleen Ropp’s untimely death,” the lawsuit states.

Kevin Ropp is seeking damages for his wife’s pre-death injuries as well as pain and suffering, interest on premature funeral expenses and loss of value to the estate.

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