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Iowa surgeon accused of incompetence, harassment, ethics violations

By Clark Kauffman (Iowa Capital Dispatch),


A surgeon who was once barred from practicing in Iowa due to allegations of professional incompetence, sexual harassment and unethical conduct has been issued a warning by the Iowa Board of Medicine.

In addition to the warning, Dr. Nicholas Kuiper, a Newton physician who once practiced general surgery in Grinnell, Waterloo and Carroll, has had his license placed on probation by the board.

The board accused Kuiper of several regulatory violations:

Sexual harassment: The board alleged Kuiper sent sexually suggestive text messages to subordinate female co-workers; made inappropriate sexual comments and unwanted sexual advances toward female co-workers; and engaged in inappropriate touching of subordinate female co-workers.

Indiscriminate prescribing of controlled substances: The board alleged that on several occasions, Kuiper prescribed controlled substances to co-workers without first establishing a physician-patient relationship.

Engaging in unethical or unprofessional conduct: The board alleged that in February 2020, Kuiper was convicted of criminal mischief and first-offense drunken driving in Guthrie County. The conviction stemmed from a 2019 arrest that also included a charge of eluding police, which was later dismissed. In that case, police alleged Kuiper drove his Hummer through the gates at a private residence in Panora, drove through the homeowner’s lawn, then fled from police after being found sleeping in his car along Highway 44.

Professional incompetence: The board alleges that Kuiper demonstrated evidence of professional incompetency in his treatment of “several surgical patients” in 2018. In 2022, a comprehensive competency evaluation allegedly identified several areas in which Kuiper needed additional professional education – including advanced trauma life support, robotic surgery and other areas of general medical knowledge.

To resolve those allegations, Kuiper recently agreed to a warning and a citation that carries no financial penalty. The settlement requires him to obtain education in professional boundaries and to enroll in an individualized educational program to address any areas of educational need identified by the Center for Personalized Education for Physicians.

In addition, Kuiper’s license has been placed on probation for five years, during which time his practice will be subject to monitoring by the board. Kuiper has agreed to pay $200 to the board each quarter to cover the board’s monitoring expenses.

In March 2020, the Kuiper and the board agreed to an order that temporarily barred him from practicing medicine in Iowa due to the allegations of incompetence and harassment. In December 2020, the board lifted those restrictions and allowed Kuiper to practice medicine in “a board-approved setting” while the case was pending. The recent settlement agreement resolves the case.

Since 2012, Kuiper has been named as a defendant in at least five malpractice cases. In each instance, Kuiper denied any wrongdoing.

— In November 2012, Kuiper and Grinnell Medical Center and the state of Iowa were named as defendants in a medical malpractice case filed by Jill Todd. Todd dropped her case against Kuiper and the hospital in 2016, with no mention of a settlement agreement in the court records. A jury found in favor of the state at trial.

— In June 2018, Jennifer Reid of Des Moines County sued Kuiper and Grinnell Regional Medical Center alleging negligence related to a sleeve gastrectomy – a form of weight-loss surgery – that was performed at the hospital. In March 2021, Kuiper and other individuals were dismissed as defendants in the case with no mention of a settlement agreement in the court record. The claim against the hospital remains. A trial is scheduled for January 2024.

— In May 2020, Kuiper and St. Anthony’s Regional Hospital were named as defendants in a medical malpractice lawsuit filed by Cindy Kasperbauer of Carroll County, who alleged Kuiper negligently performed a robot-assisted hernia repair on her at the hospital. Kasperbauer dropped the lawsuit several weeks later, with no mention of a settlement agreement in the court record.

— Also in May 2020, Lillie Phillips of Black Hawk County sued Kuiper and MercyOne Waterloo Medical Center, alleging negligence related to a surgical procedure. The lawsuit was dismissed last year with no mention of a settlement agreement in the court record.

— In November 2020, Hailey Raymond of Greene County sued Kuiper and St. Anthony’s over a robot-assisted hernia repair she alleged was negligently performed. That case is pending, with a trial scheduled for May 15.

Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kathie Obradovich for questions: . Follow Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter .

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