Suture found in bladder after hysterectomy
A 40-year-old woman underwent a hysterectomy due to dysmenorrhea. Despite the presence of blood in the catheter bag after the procedure, the surgeon did not consult a urologist or perform a cystoscopy. Later, when the patient reported urinary retention, urinary leakage, and dyspareunia, a urologist performed a cystoscopy and discovered a suture in the bladder wall and a vesicovaginal fistula.
During the procedure, the gynecologic surgeon inadvertently placed a suture in the bladder wall. The presence of blood in the Foley catheter required an immediate urology consult and cystoscopy, during which the presence of the errant suture would have been discovered. Repair surgery then would have prevented subsequent injuries.
The surgeon used reasonable judgment, as there were explanations for the blood in the catheter due to a difficult catheter placement and lysis of bladder adhesions.
A Michigan defense verdict was returned.
Bowel injury during tubal ligation
A 40-year-old woman underwent laparoscopic tubal ligation using cauterization at an outpatient surgery center. Two hours after the procedure, her BP began to drop. She was promptly transferred to a hospital and underwent emergency surgery that revealed a bowel injury. Part of the patient’s small intestine was resected.
The gynecologic surgeon committed a medical error when she injured the bowel during trocar insertion.
The bowel injury was a known complication of the surgery.
A Louisiana defense verdict was returned.
How to avoid major vessel injury during gynecologic laparoscopy
Colon injured twice: $1M settlement
A 59-year-old woman underwent laparoscopic total hysterectomy and salpingectomy. Her history included an umbilical hernia repair.
Two days after surgery, the patient experienced abdominal pain, chills, abdominal distention, and a foul-smelling discharge from her umbilical suture site. She went to the emergency department where a computed tomography scan revealed 2 injuries in the bowel. Emergency laparotomy included transverse colon resection and right colon colostomy with Hartmann’s pouch. She wore an ostomy bag for 8 months. She developed an infection because of the colostomy and also required operations to resolve a bowel obstruction and repair incisional hernias.
The gynecologic surgeon was negligent when performing the surgery. When he inserted the Veress needle and trocar through the patient’s umbilicus, the transverse colon was injured twice with a 3-cm anterior tear and a 1-cm posterior laceration. The injuries were not discovered during the procedure. He should have been more careful knowing that she had undergone prior umbilical hernia surgery.
The case was settled before the trial began.
A $1 million Virginia settlement was reached.
Chronic pain after sling procedure: $2M verdict
A 63-year-old woman reported urinary incontinence to her gynecologist, who performed a transobturator midurethral sling procedure. After surgery, the patient experienced pelvic pain, urinary urgency, intermittent incontinence, and dyspareunia. She returned to the gynecologist twice. He performed a cystoscopy after the second visit but found nothing wrong.
The patient sought a second opinion. A gynecologic surgeon found a large mass in the patient’s bladder consisting of a crystallized piece of tape that had been used to secure the sling supporting the bladder. The mass was removed and the patient reported that, although surgery alleviated many symptoms, she was not pain-free.
The gynecologist negligently inserted the end of the sling through one wall of her bladder and failed to detect the malpositioning during surgery or later. He failed to diagnose and treat bladder stones that resulted from the sling’s malpositioning. He failed to perform a cystoscopy when she first reported symptoms and improperly performed cystoscopy at the second visit.
There was no negligence on the part of the gynecologist. The patient did not report ongoing symptoms until 1 year after sling insertion.
A $2 million Pennsylvania verdict was returned.
These cases were selected by the editors of OBG Management from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts, with permission of the editor, Lewis Laska (www.verdictslaska.com). The information available to the editors about the cases presented here is sometimes incomplete. Moreover, the cases may or may not have merit. Nevertheless, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation and are meant to illustrate nationwide variation in jury verdicts and awards.
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