Small Siouxland hospital faces numerous malpractice, wrongful death lawsuits

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It’s a small Siouxland hospital that last year tried to keep the public from learning details of a huge wrongful death settlement. 

Now, that hospital is facing three other similar suits — two of them filed in just the past month.
The lawsuits all accuse the staff of Crawford County Memorial Hospital of making mistakes that resulted in patient deaths. In addition, there’s a separate federal suit pending that alleges Medicare fraud. The spate of lawsuits is leading to questions about whether there’s a systemic problem at the facility.
This stack of lawsuits and legal filings reviewed by 9 Investigates all have one thing in common — the defendant is a small western Iowa hospital. The lawsuits include four claims of wrongful death in two years, as well as federal Medicare fraud allegations.
The hospital is Crawford County Memorial in Denison — it’s a public hospital, paid for and operated with local taxpayer funds, but it seems a lot of hospital money is being spent to pay for legal fees and settlements. Some lawyers telling 9 Investigates the number of lawsuits against the small hospital is very surprising. Four wrongful death suits over the past two years — with two of those just being filed in recent weeks.
Denison retiree Rich Knolls is a community watchdog who has serious questions about how taxpayer dollars are being spent.
“I truly care for the people of Crawford County and I believe Crawford County needs a quality hospital that offers quality care. And as such it’s my opinion now after seeing what has happened since they built a replacement hospital, that Crawford County, the trustees of the hospital need to investigate the possibility of privatizing this hospital and putting it in the hands of people who know how to operate a hospital and quality care.” says Knowles.
Knowles isn’t the only voice critical of hospital practices. The Daily Times Herald Newspaper successfully sued when the public hospital tried to keep a half-million dollar malpractice settlement last year a secret — an action the paper says was blatantly illegal.
“The people in charge of the hospital have reacted poorly, in my opinion, to the criticism of some people in town and it’d forced them to be more secretive with bad news. They don’t wanna let bad news get out, but the are public entity and the law is clear. They have to give us this information and I hope they don’t try to conceal in the future,” says Jared Strong, a crime and courts reporter for Daily Times Herald. 
Officials at Crawford County Memorial Hospital say they don’t and won’t comment about any incidents at the facility involving litigation.

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