Indian American Prof. Hari Shankar’s death cleared of any malpractice

Shankar had died after a hernia surgery, in 2008.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: The two Iowa doctors charged with being responsible for causing the death of Hari Shankar in 2008 have been cleared of any wrongdoing, with the jury siding against the estate of the late University of Northern Iowa professor.

Shankar was 77 years old when he underwent a hernia surgery on June 17, 2008. Days after the operation, however, on June 20, Shankar passed away because of peritonitis stemming from a ruptured colon, apparently sustained as a result of the surgery.

Shankar’s estate subsequently filed a lawsuit against the two physicians charged with Shankar’s care, Neil McMahon and Gerald Wait, as well as the Covenant Medical Center and the Sartori Memorial Hospital.

The trial officially began last month, on February 18, with the jury reaching their verdict just under a month later, at the start of March. According to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, the jury sided completely with Drs. McMahon and Wait, as well as Covenant and Sartori, clearing them of any malpractice.

Shankar had a long and storied career in academics, even before joining the University of Northern Iowa. In 1960, Shankar emigrated from India on a scholarship to Rice University, studying mathematics and eventually completing an advanced degree in 1963.

He was then hired by Ohio University in Athens, where he taught mathematics for over 30 years, receiving the prestigious University Professor Award during his tenure with the school. He eventually retired with a professor emeritus status, but remained active in the community, serving for many years in the Kiwanis Club of Athens and Cedar Falls.

He was teaching part-time as a visiting instructor at the University of Northern Iowa at the time of his passing, survived by his wife, children, and 11 grandchildren.

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