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Nurse coerced to implant wrong pacemaker; lawsuit filed

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

A nurse alleges in a lawsuit that her employer coerced her doctor into implanting the wrong kind of pacemaker as part of a plan to win a $1 million kickback from the manufacturer.

Kathleen Davis, 59, of Des Moines, says Dr. Frank Haugland told her that Iowa Health System officials pressured him to use a Medtronic pacemaker when a different brand would have been a better match for her body and condition.

Her lawyers say Haugland shared an internal memo that outlined the deal. The six-page memo says Haugland objected in vain and was told not to let patients know about the contract or how it affected their treatment.

Davis, who manages an Iowa Health System pediatrics clinic in West Des Moines, was furious.

"She was very, very hurt and upset that she was deceived by her employer and deceived by her cardiologist," said Greg Landry, one of her lawyers.

Davis' lawsuit, filed Friday in Polk County District Court, includes the memo. The lawsuit names Haugland along with Iowa Health System and its flagship hospital, Iowa Methodist Medical Center.

David Stark, Iowa Health's executive vice president, said Friday he could not comment on the lawsuit.

He said Iowa Health does not resort to kickbacks, but negotiates price breaks that help with the cost of quality services.

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