State settles U of Iowa, physician group malpractice suit for $7.5M

The state of Iowa has agreed to pay a $7.5 million malpractice settlement after a man was left with severe neurological deficits following treatment of a bleeding brain tumor at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, the Globe Gazette reported July 12.

Seven details:

1. Seventy-five percent of the payment was assigned to UI Physicians, but as the group has a $5 million cap per claim, the state will pay $2.5 million of the $7.5 million.

2. The settlement stems from Dec. 26, 2016, when Christopher Dolan, now 47, went to Trinity Medical Center in Bettendorf, Iowa, with a temporal headache, nausea, vomiting, eye pain, visual blurring and light sensitivity. After a CT scan revealed a possible tumor, Mr. Dolan was transferred to UIHC. 

3. Diagnostic tests indicated Mr. Dolan had a pituitary tumor and a mass, and UIHC discharged him with instructions to contact UIHC Neurosurgery in two weeks. However, with a worsening headache and vomiting, Mr. Dolan returned the next day to the Trinity ER, where he was discharged with prescriptions and told to contact UIHC if his condition worsened, according to the report. 

4. On Dec. 27, Mr. Dolan again went to UIHC with a severe headache, vomiting, double and blurred vision and eye pain. Another CT scan had providers concerned about "elevated intracranial pressure and a rapid expansion of the tumor to bleeding," according to the suit. But despite this, Mr. Dolan was allegedly discharged on Dec. 28 and told to follow up with UIHC Neurosurgery.

5. On Dec. 29, Mr. Dolan went to the UIHC ER with a severe temporal headache behind his eyes. The lawsuit said he also could not keep food or medicine down, and an MRI indicated the tumor had grown and was starting to hemorrhage.

6. Four surgeons performed a transsphenoidal resection of the pituitary tumor on Mr. Dolan on Dec. 30. The surgeons found the tumor had destroyed Mr. Dolan's sellar region bone and filled his left sinus. On Jan. 17, 2018, more than a year later, Mr. Dolan was discharged from UIHC with "ongoing neurological deficits" including speech disturbance, paralysis and compromised motor, bowel and bladder functions, according to the report. 

7. UI and state attorneys said the allegations provided an incomplete summary of Mr. Dolan's medical records and argued that something else could have contributed to his medical problems. The state did not admit liability by settling the suit before it went to a jury.

UI does not comment on litigation, a UI spokesperson told Becker's.

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