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Moore v. Winneshiek Medical Center

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 7, 2018

PATRICIA MOORE, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
WINNESHIEK MEDICAL CENTER and MAYO CLINIC HEALTH SYSTEM-DECORAH CLINIC, Defendants-Appellants.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Winneshiek County, Richard D. Stochl, Judge.

         Defendants appeal following a jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff on her medical malpractice claim.

          Timothy C. Boller of Weilein & Boller, PC, Cedar Falls, and Nancy J. Penner of Shuttleworth & Ingersoll, PLC, Cedar Rapids, for appellant Winneshiek Medical Center.

          Gregory E. Karpenko of Fredrickson & Byron, PA, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Kevin J. Visser and Christine L. Conover of Simmons Perrine Moyer Bergman, PLC, Cedar Rapids, for appellant Mayo Clinic Health System-Decorah Clinic.

          Matt J. Reilly of Trial Lawyers for Justice, Decorah, for appellee.

          Heard by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and McDonald, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, JUDGE.

         A woman who underwent a CT scan at a local hospital had a severe allergic reaction to the contrast dye administered with the scan. She filed a medical malpractice action against the hospital for which the attending physician worked as well as the local hospital where she was treated. A jury awarded her damages. On appeal, the hospitals contend the woman failed to prove their conduct caused the injury. One of the hospitals also argues the woman did not establish a breach of the standard of care.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Patricia Moore had a heart attack in 2005. During follow-up care, she was administered an angiogram with contrast dye. Her blood pressure dropped, and she was informed she had an allergy to the dye. After learning of the allergy, Moore attached a sticker to the back of her driver's license stating "no contrast dye."

         Six years later, Moore experienced chest pain at work. An ambulance was called and paramedics transported her to the emergency room of Winneshiek Medical Center in Decorah (Winneshiek). Moore said she told the paramedics about her allergies to penicillin and contrast dye.

         On Moore's arrival at the hospital, a nurse asked her about allergies. Moore told her she was allergic to penicillin and contrast dye. Dr. Kent Svestka entered the room. He worked for Mayo Clinic Health System-Decorah Clinic (Mayo) and served as the medical director of the Winneshiek emergency department. According to Moore, she or someone else in the room told Dr. Svestka about the allergies. Dr. Svestka examined Moore and ordered certain standard tests to gauge her chest pain.

         Meanwhile, Dr. Svestka noticed that Moore appeared to be in severe pain. He suspected she might be experiencing a rare condition known as an aortic dissection. Dr. Svestka ordered a CT scan with contrast dye, the only test at Winneshiek that he believed could conclusively rule out the condition. He testified he was unaware of Moore's allergy to contrast dye.

         The person who took Moore to the radiology department to undergo the CT scan asked Moore about allergies. Moore "told her penicillin and contrast dye." The person conveyed the allergy information to the CT technician. The technician, in turn, questioned Moore about her allergies. Moore repeated what she told the intake nurse-that she "was allergic to penicillin and contrast dye." The technician asked her what the issue was with the contrast dye. Moore told her that her "blood pressure dropped."

         The technician placed Moore into the CT machine. When Moore came out, she screamed that something was wrong, then lost consciousness. Moore's heart stopped beating for at least five minutes. Moore awoke to her crying family and a priest "giving [her] the last [rites]." Later, physicians at Mayo Clinic told her she had been administered the contrast dye.

         Moore sued Winneshiek and Mayo for medical malpractice. She alleged their employees "failed [to] use the degree of skill, care and learning ordinarily possessed and exercised by other medical providers." The district court ...


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