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Shipton v. Chickasaw County Board of Health

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 21, 2018

ROBERT SHIPTON, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
CHICKASAW COUNTY BOARD OF HEALTH, CHICKASAW COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH AGENCY, CHICKASAW COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH NURSING SERVICE d/b/a CHICKASAW COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH & HOME CARE SERVICES, and TERRI FRANZEN, R.N., Defendants-Appellees.

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

         Appeal from an order granting the defendants' motion for summary judgment.

          Nathaniel W. Schwickerath of Schwickerath, P.C., New Hampton, for appellant.

          Carlton G. Salmons of Macro & Kozlowski LLP, West Des Moines, and Jon K. Swanson of Swanson Law Firm, West Des Moines, for appellees.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Bower and McDonald, JJ.

          MCDONALD, JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Robert Shipton commenced this malpractice action against Defendants Chickasaw County, Chickasaw County Board of Health, Terry Franzen, R.N., and Mercy Health Services-Iowa Corp. (collectively, hereinafter "the county"). Shipton appeals from the district court's order granting the county's second motion for summary judgment. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings.

         I.

         We review a grant of summary judgment for correction of errors at law. See Crippen v. City of Cedar Rapids, 618 N.W.2d 562, 565 (Iowa 2000). Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Iowa R. Civ. P. 1.981(3). "In assessing whether summary judgment is warranted, we view the entire record in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Crippen, 618 N.W.2d at 565.

         II.

         When viewed in the light most favorable to Shipton, the summary judgment record shows the following. In February 2013, Shipton sustained a serious leg injury. He was treated for the injury at the Mayo Clinic and released. Subsequently, he developed a staph infection. Treatment of the staph infection required self-administration of Vancomycin twice daily via a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) line. Vancomycin is a potent drug, which can cause serious adverse health effects when improperly administered. An incorrectly inserted PICC line creates risk the drug will infuse into the wrong portion of the body.

         Defendant Terry Franzen, a registered nurse, and two other Chickasaw County nurses provided in-home care to Shipton in the form of periodic visits over a two-week period in June of 2013. Franzen visited Shipton on five occasions: June 13, 14, 17, 24, and 26. According to the county, Franzen's responsibilities during these in-home visits were: "(1) to monitor the wound on [Shipton's] leg by keeping it free from infection; (2) to monitor the pain and help him with that; (3) to monitor Shipton's PICC line looking for signs of infection; and (4) to continue teaching Shipton on the clean technique for infusion of Vancomycin."

         On June 17, during one of Franzen's visits, Shipton's PICC line became dislodged from its insertion site. After this incident, Shipton began experiencing pain in his arm near the insertion site. The pain gradually increased in severity over the course of the following several days.

         When Franzen arrived for her visit on the morning of June 24, Shipton complained of extreme pain. Franzen contacted the nearby hospital. The hospital advised Shipton should be brought to the emergency room. However, county policy prohibited Franzen from transporting Shipton in her own vehicle, so each drove separately to the hospital. Shipton presented at the emergency room ...


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