Linn County woman files $15 million medical malpractice claim against UIHC

Surgery caused paralysis, speech problems, according to claim

The main entrance to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is shown in Iowa City on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (Adam
The main entrance to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is shown in Iowa City on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

A 54-year-old Linn County woman filed a $15 million medical malpractice claim with the Iowa State Appeal Board last week against the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for a surgery which caused paralysis, affected her ability to speak and other debilitating injuries.

In 2014, Joyce Bohren, 52 at the time and full-time cook at Jones Regional Medical Center, had a hearing issue and doctors at UI found she had two meningiomas, benign tumors, which develop from the thin layers of tissue that cover the brain and spinal cord, according to the claim. She had one, which had been diagnosed in the past, and another that appeared to cause her hearing loss. Doctors recommended removing the one previously diagnosed.

Bohren of Prairieburg, had surgery, without appropriate informed consent, on March 12, 2014 and before surgery had no issues with vision, speech and body movement or motor skills, the claim states.

While removing the tumor the doctors negligently cut Bohren’s middle cerebral artery, Guy Cook, Bohren’s Des Moines lawyer, said Tuesday. This artery is one of three major arteries that supply blood to the brain.

“This caused a stroke and left Ms. Bohren paralyzed on the right side, she could not speak, could not swallow and could not control her bowel and bladder functions,” Cook said. “She (now) requires 24-hour care. This should never have happened. The doctors failed to meet the standard of care for such a procedure.”

The claim states the surgery was performed by Dr. Matthew A. Howard, III, the chief of the Department of Neurosurgery, with the assistance from Dr. Hiroto Kawasaki and Dr. Raheel Ahmed.

Tom Moore, UI spokesperson, said Tuesday that university representatives do not comment on pending litigation.

Bohren was discharged from UI on March 20, but was then taken to St. Luke’s Acute Rehab until April 29, 2014, the claim shows. She was then transferred for skilled care at various centers from June 2014 through March 2015, before going home that month, but she now requires 24-hour care and will likely for the rest of her life.

Cook said Bohren condition remains essentially the same today, but now she can say a few words when prompted and continues to have difficulty moving the right side of her body, “despite considerable therapy, and cannot care for herself.”

Cook explained that a claim for negligent conduct by a state employee, such as a UI doctor, must be first submitted to the appeals board. The claim is then sent to the Iowa Attorney General for review and recommendation and if the appeals board declines to settle the claim, then Cook will file a lawsuit in Johnson County District Court.

Documents show the appeals board received the tort claim on March 10.