Health

State agrees to $3.7 million in settlements for alleged UIHC malpractice

One woman died after 'improperly' placed feeding tube

The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center is located within the John Pappajohn Pav
The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center is located within the John Pappajohn Pavilion on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City. (The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The state has agreed to settle three University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics malpractice lawsuits by paying $3.7 million to three families, including one involving a Marion woman who died three years ago after family members say UI physicians improperly placed a feeding tube.

Iowa’s Attorney General’s Office on Dec. 1 recommended the State Appeal Board approve a $2 million settlement with the family of Sharon Roseann Wiese, who died Dec. 9, 2017, of a pneumonia that experts say caused her death.

UI Physicians will cover $500,000 of the payment, and the state’s general fund will cover the other $1.5 million — even as the state denies the allegations but agrees a settlement is in both parties’ “best interest.”

According to the lawsuit, Wiese’s husband and adult children filed in November 2019, she was admitted to UIHC on Nov. 12, 2017. UIHC practitioners Sumant Arora and Yehudith Assouline-Dayan on Nov. 29 — along with staff under their direction — examined the patient’s esophagus, stomach and small intestine and placed a feeding tube.

“The tube was placed improperly in the esophagus (rather than its proper place in the stomach),” according to the family’s lawsuit. “Post procedure X-rays were not performed to confirm placement and discover this improper placement.

“Sharon was reinstituted feedings without X-rays being taken.”

Those feedings, according to the lawsuit, caused aspiration pneumonia in her lungs.

“As a result of the improper tube placement, Sharon’s feedings entered her lungs, causing aspiration pneumonia and later, death,” according to the lawsuit, citing expert confirmation “breach of the standard of care … was the probable cause of Sharon’s aspiration pneumonia, and ultimately, her death.”

Arora and Assouline-Dayan are not currently listed as UIHC physicians.

The state also has agreed to pay Robert Davis and his wife, Marie Davis, of Mechanicsville, $1 million after they sued UIHC, saying its providers “negligently performed a spinal fusion resulting in significant neurological injury.”

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Half of that million would come from the state’s general fund and the other half would come from UI Physicians, the multi-specialty medical and surgical group that represents more than 1,000 UI physicians in 19 clinical departments.

The lawsuit accuses UIHC of failing to obtain “informed consent” before performing back surgery on Robert Davis in February 2015. The lawsuit also accused UI physicians of improperly diagnosing and treating conditions that resulted from the back surgery, “with results including but not limited to Robert Davis becoming a paraplegic,” according to the lawsuit.

The final UI malpractice settlement Iowa’s Board of Appeals considered Monday recommended a $700,000 UI Physicians payment to the daughters of Ardeth Wray, of Lisbon.

Wray, according to the daughters’ June 2018 lawsuit, was a healthy 74-year-old when UI physician Jeremy Greenlee in 2015 diagnosed her with a non-cancerous tumor in the lining of her brain.

“Despite noting no neurological defects, Ardeth’s age, lack of documented growth, and lack of cerebral edema, Dr. Greenlee recommended surgical removal,” according to the lawsuit.

UIHC disputed that assertion in court documents, reporting, “surgical removal versus observation were discussed with the patient, and she elected to proceed with surgery after the risks associated with the surgery were discussed.”

The family accused the doctor of failing to treat a preoperative positive Staphylococcus aureus test with antibiotics before surgery “to eliminate the colonized pathogen and reduce the risk of infection during the procedure.”

Wray developed an infection, resulting in additional surgeries, an ICU stay, and time in skilled care recovery. During one of the surgeries, according to the lawsuit, Wray suffered a stroke.

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“Today, Ardeth suffers from neurological deficits, including significant memory loss, vision loss, and struggles with most cognitive functions,” according to the lawsuit. “Physically, Ardeth is off-balance due to her vision problems, and sometimes falls as a result. Although Ardeth has some limited ability to speak, she has difficulty finding words.

“She is unable to live independently and is cared for by her daughters.”

The Iowa Board of Appeals approved all three settlements on a 3-0 vote.

Gazette reporter Rod Boshart contributed to this story.

Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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