Saturday, April 1, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Court Rejects Patient’s Lurid Suit as Baseless

DES MOINES, Iowa (CN) - An Iowa anesthesiologist need not face civil claims from a patient who thought the worst when she came to, despite no evidence of hanky-panky, an appeals court ruled.

Dr. John Roe treated Jane Doe for a back injury from 2007 to 2010, according to the opinion, which does not give either party's real name. Doe said Roe offered to treat her in his office free of charge when his insurance company would no longer cover her pain injections.

Doe says none of Roe's staff were present on April 6, 2010, when she arrived for her appointment. Roe asked her to lie on her stomach so he could give the injection in her back.

In a complaint she filed against Roe in Pottawattamie County, Doe says she does not know what happened next, only that "when she came to, she was lying on her back, groggy, dazed and alone in the examination room."

She also noticed a sticky white substance on her face and neck, which Dr. Roe allegedly wiped off before sending her home in her disoriented condition.

Doe sued both Dr. Roe and his employer, Medical Anesthesia Associates, but the trial court granted them summary judgment.

Affirming that ruling Wednesday, the Iowa Court of Appeals noted that Doe's lawsuit was "based on conjecture, speculation and innuendo."

"We conclude there is no 'genuine' issue for trial," Judge Christopher McDonald wrote for the court. "Jane Doe conceded she does not recall any offensive contact before, during, or after the procedure. She had no reason to believe her clothes had been removed."

Emphasizing that "no reasonable person could find it offensive for a doctor to turn a patient over to a resting position following a procedure," McDonald also noted that the "white sticky substance" Doe mentioned was determined to be the anesthetic Licodaine, ejected from a syringe during the procedure.

McDonald concluded that the injection was "routine and performed on an outpatient basis," and that "Jane Doe's speculation and conjecture that something bad may have happened to her during this medical procedure is insufficient to survive summary judgment."

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.