Medical Verdicts

Did chemical burns cause dyspareunia?


San Diego County (Calif) Superior Court—A 21-year-old woman was treated for genital warts. At the end of her treatment, the physician applied what he believed to be a 5% acetic acid solution to her vulvar tissue. However, the nurse accidentally handed the doctor an 80% solution.

In suing, the patient claimed that the acid burned the “deep dermal” layer of her skin, causing subclinical neural damage and dyspareunia. As a result, she required biofeedback therapy, vaginal dilation, estrogen replacement therapy, and psychological counseling.

The Ob/Gyn argued that a minimal amount of 80% acetic acid was used and that the first- and second-degree genital burns the woman received were superficial, resolving within 3 months. Furthermore, he claimed that the source of the patient’s problems was vulvar vestibulitis, a condition that existed prior to her chemical burns.

The jury awarded the plaintiff $126,000.

The cases presented here were compiled by Lewis L. Laska, editor of Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts. While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.

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