Medical Verdicts

Ureter injury follows unneeded hysterectomy


<court>Orange County (NY) Supreme Court</court>

With complaints of menorrhagia and dyspareunia, a 23-year-old woman with a previous tubal ligation presented to her Ob/Gyn. A course of oral contraceptives proved unsuccessful.

Ultrasound examination revealed an enlarged uterus. The physician informed the woman she had uterine fibroids and recommended a hysterectomy. At surgery, however, no fibroids were discovered. In the course of the procedure, the woman’s right ureter was severed. She developed a ureterovaginal fistula. Despite several corrective procedures, she claims to still suffer from urinary incontinence.

In suing, the plaintiff argued that the physician was negligent in not offering an alternative to hysterectomy, such as dilation and curettage.

The defendants maintained that the patient was fully informed, and argued that the hysterectomy was appropriate. Further, they noted that ureter injury is a known complication of the procedure, and alleged that the woman’s symptoms had resolved.

  • The jury awarded the plaintiff $600,000.

The cases in this column are selected by the editors of OBG Management from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts, with permission of the editor, Lewis Laska, of Nashville, Tenn ( 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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