Retired OB-GYN doctor sued for medical malpractice

Published 10:00 am Friday, July 27, 2018

By Steve Bohnel, Mason City Globe Gazette


MASON CITY — Dr. Stephen Thorn, an OB-GYN doctor who retired from Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa in May, is being sued for medical malpractice.

Stephen Thorn

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Terra Gaffney, a Rockwell resident, stated that during a prenatal visit on Oct. 4, 2017, Thorn “committed an unconsented and not medically indicated physical touching” of her, according to a lawsuit filed in Cerro Gordo County District Court on Wednesday.

Molly Hamilton, a Storm Lake-based attorney representing Gaffney, declined to comment Thursday on what that touching involved.

“That is our allegation, and it speaks for itself,” Hamilton said.

“I’m not gonna go into anything other than the public record,” Hamilton added when questioned further about the lawsuit.

Thorn has not been charged with a crime over allegedly touching Gaffney without her consent during an appointment.

The lawsuit also lists Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa and its Gynecology Clinic as defendants. A spokeswoman for Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa said via email Thursday that the hospital does not discuss pending litigation.

The lawsuit details a voicemail Thorn left on Gaffney’s cell phone on Oct. 12, 2017.

Thorn, along with other unidentified females, allegedly made “disparaging remarks about Terra Gaffney’s mental health, past medical treatment, the paternity of her unborn fetus and health of Terra Gaffney’s unborn fetus.”

Those comments also included statements about Gaffney’s protected, past medical history that other clinic employees did not need access to, court documents stated.

Court documents indicate Gaffney heard that voicemail on Oct. 13, and it caused her “physical and emotional distress,” leading her to change prenatal care providers.

The lawsuit alleges Thorn and other OB-GYN Clinic employees violated the duty of care owed to Gaffney, and that Thorn touching Gaffney without consent on Oct. 4 violated the “ordinary standard of care” owed to her.

Gaffney seeks monetary compensation for emotional and physical injury, but the lawsuit doesn’t specify an amount. The lawsuit doesn’t specify if Gaffney was physically injured.

Thorn retired in May, after helping deliver more than 7,000 babies in his career. He worked at Mercy since 2012, after more than 20 years of experience as a doctor in Albert Lea.