Sam Clovis sues UnityPoint, doctors over negligence

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – A former Sioux City college professor and radio talk show host, who was also nominated to serve in the US Department of Agriculture before withdrawing his name, and his wife are suing UnityPoint Medical Center of Sioux City and others for negligence.

Sam Clovis Jr. and his wife Charlotte Clovis filed the lawsuit in Woodbury County and are suing over five claims of negligence of care received that led to him being paraplegic, requiring extensive care.

The lawsuit names UnityPoint Medical Center of Sioux City, Regency Square Care Center, Family Healthcare of Siouxland, PLC, and five individual doctors; doctors Michael Brenner, Thomas Wente, Chad Stadsvold, Melissa Austreim-Krell, and Rita Jenkins; as the defendants.

The lawsuit states that Sam Clovis went to the St. Luke’s emergency room on April 21, 2019, complaining of chest pains on his right side. The pain would radiate to his back at times and was worse with movement. X-rays were taken and no evidence was found to suggest a rib fracture. Clovis was prescribed pain medication and was discharged.

Two days later, he was admitted to the emergency room again with complaints of shortness of breath, coughing and brief episodes of abnormal sweating. He was given antibiotics for possible pneumonia.

While in the hospital, it was noted that Clovis had ongoing weakness in the legs and pain in the mid-back. Blood tests also showed Clovis tested positive for staph infection, but it was unclear if the results were reported to anyone else.

Clovis was hospitalized until May 1, 2019, before he was then transferred to a rehabilitation wing, where he stayed until May 16, 2019. Doctors noted that there were issues with his lower extremities including weakness in both legs and numbness and tingling. Clovis also complained of main in his mid-upper back and incontinence of the bladder.

An MRI was taken Of Clovis’ lower back on May 3 showing severe spinal canal stenosis. The lawsuit said no imaging was done of the area where he complained of pain in his upper back.

Clovis was trafered to Regency Square Care Center in South Sioux City, Nebraska, to continue rehabilitation, but noted he would be limited due to the continued pain. On May 28, 2019, Clovis was found on the floor, having fallen while trying to stand up. There were no apparent injuries, but he continued to have pain in his right shoulder.

Clovis reported pain in his back and chest a 10 out of 10, and seen by his doctor on June 4, 2019, it was noted he had “acute bilateral thoracic back pain.” An x-ray was ordered for his chest but not for his back.

A note from a nurse on June 5, 2019, said Clovis didn’t have any feeling in his lower extremities and couldn’t bear any weight there, Clovis was admitted to the ER. On June 7, 2019, doctors consulted with a neurosurgeon who ordered an MRI of Clovis’ upper back. Doctors found an abscess. Clovis was taken to to the operating room after the MRI and an emergency surgery was done to drain the infectious abscess.

At the time of filing, the lawsuit said that even after extensive rehabilitation, he remains paraplegic.

The lawsuit asks for a judgment in the amount to reasonably compensate for harms and losses with interest for Clovis and his wife.

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