670 N.W.2d 108 (Iowa 2003), 02-1007, Campbell v. Delbridge

Docket Nº:02-1007.
Citation:670 N.W.2d 108
Party Name:Lester CAMPBELL, Appellant, v. Arnold DELBRIDGE and Covenant Medical Center, Inc., Appellees.
Case Date:October 08, 2003
Court:Supreme Court of Iowa
 
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Page 108

670 N.W.2d 108 (Iowa 2003)

Lester CAMPBELL, Appellant,

v.

Arnold DELBRIDGE and Covenant Medical Center, Inc., Appellees.

No. 02-1007.

Supreme Court of Iowa

October 8, 2003.

Page 109

Douglas V. Coonrad, Hudson, for appellant.

Joseph L. Fitzgibbons and Ned A. Stockdale of Fitzgibbons Law Firm, Estherville, for appellee Covenant Medical Center.

Allison M. Heffern and James E. Shipman of Simmons Perrine Albright & Ellwood, PLC, Cedar Rapids, for appellee Arnold Delbridge.

Frank Santiago, Iowa City, and Donald T. Ridley, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., Patterson, NY, for amicus curiae Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.

LARSON, Justice.

Lester Campbell, a surgical patient at Waterloo's Covenant Hospital, sued the hospital and Dr. Arnold Delbridge, Campbell's treating doctor, for reinfusing Campbell's own blood following surgery. The district court dismissed the suit, and Campbell appealed. We reverse and remand.

I. Facts and Prior Proceedings.

Lester Campbell was admitted to Covenant for a total right knee arthroplasty performed by Dr. Delbridge, an orthopedic surgeon. Campbell is a Jehovah's Witness, and he made it clear in his presurgical physical and at his preadmission appointment that his religious beliefs precluded the use of blood or blood products, including his own. His medical chart made numerous references to his refusal to accept blood infusions. Campbell did not receive any blood or blood products during surgery. However, after surgery, Dr. Delbridge ordered the use of a Gish Orthoinfuser (Gish) to collect blood from the surgical site. The doctor decided to use the Gish, as opposed to other devices, because the Gish provided a reservoir where blood can be stored for disposal or possible reinfusion, and it provided the best suction. Further, use of the Gish would preserve Campbell's ability to change his mind about receiving his own blood should it become medically necessary.

The nurse anesthetist who took Campbell to the postanesthesia care unit (PACU) stated in an affidavit that, at the request of Dr. Delbridge, she told the PACU nurses that Campbell was a Jehovah's Witness and was not to be reinfused. The PACU nurses, however, denied receiving this information. The nurse who started the reinfusion admitted in her deposition that she did not look at Campbell's chart for an order to start the reinfusion, as usually required. She based her decision to reinfuse on the fact that the Gish, with its blood reservoir, suggested that reinfusion was to be done. Campbell was reinfused with his own blood for just under an hour.

Campbell sued the doctor and the hospital, alleging negligence, failure to obtain informed consent, breach of contract, medical battery, and invasion of privacy. Campbell had originally indicated he would have an expert witness on the doctor's standard of care, but that witness was withdrawn. Dr. Delbridge moved for summary judgment on the ground that, without

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expert testimony, Campbell could not make a prima facie showing on any of his theories of recovery. Covenant filed a motion to preclude the plaintiff's medical evidence under Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.508(3) (failure to identify expert) and Iowa Rule of Evidence 5.104(a) (preliminary question of qualification of witnesses to be determined by court).

The court concluded that the plaintiff lacked the necessary expert witnesses to establish liability or damages, and the suit was dismissed.

II. Standard of Review.

The standard of review of a district court's grant of summary judgment is for correction of errors at law. Kelly v. Iowa Mut. Ins. Co., 620 N.W.2d 637, 641 (Iowa 2001). Summary judgment is appropriate only when the moving party shows there are no genuine issues of material fact, and in deciding that issue, we review the record in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Id. Another principle is applicable here:

Because resolution of issues of negligence and proximate cause turns on the reasonableness of the acts and conduct of the parties under all the facts and circumstances, actions for malpractice "are ordinarily not susceptible of summary adjudication."

Oswald v....

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