Medical Verdicts

Was fistula repair performed too soon?


Los Angeles County (Calif) Superior Court

During delivery of a macrosomic full-term infant, a woman suffered a fourth-degree laceration that tore her vagina and anal sphincter. The physician repaired the tear, but 6 days postpartum the woman returned complaining of gas and stool escaping through her vagina. The Ob/Gyn diagnosed a rectovaginal fistula and prescribed antibiotics. A surgical repair was performed 7 weeks later.

Following the repair, however, the woman’s symptoms continued. She sought the advice of several other doctors, who suggested that 4 or 5 new fistulas had developed.

The woman sued, claiming that the defendant conducted the repair too soon, when the site was still inflamed, swollen, and infected.

The defendant maintained that the site was neither inflamed nor infected at the time of repair, and that the woman did not suffer any additional fistulas as a result of surgery.

  • The jury returned a defense verdict.
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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