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Pauscher v. Iowa Methodist Medical Center

Supreme Court of Iowa
408 N.W.2d 355 (1987)


Facts

Becky Pauscher delivered a baby boy at Iowa Methodist Medical Center (the hospital) (defendant). Just before she was to be discharged from the hospital, Pauscher became seriously ill. Dr. John Bardole (defendant) believed that Pauscher’s urinary tract was obstructed. To identify any obstructions, Bardole ordered that Pauscher undergo an intravenous pyelogram (IVP), an imaging technique in which the patient’s veins are injected with a dye that makes organs more visible in x-rays. IVP can cause anaphylactic shock in one out of 100,000-150,000 patients, but typically only causes mild discomfort. Neither Dr. Bardole, nor Dr. Jeff Watters (defendant), the radiologist on duty, ever spoke with Pauscher about the test or its risks. When Pauscher was administered the IVP, she went into anaphylactic shock and died. Pauscher’s estate (plaintiff) sued the hospital and Drs. Bardole and Watters, alleging, among other things, that the doctors did not obtain Pauscher’s informed consent to perform the IVP. The doctors moved for directed verdicts on the basis that there was no evidence at trial that the doctors had not followed professional standards. The trial court granted these motions. Pauscher’s estate appealed, arguing that the trial court should not have looked at whether the doctors followed the professional standard for informed consent, but instead whether the doctors disclosed all material risks involved in IVP.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Reynoldson, C.J.)

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