Medical Verdicts

Was surgery to blame for ectopic pregnancy?


<court>Boyle County (Ky) Circuit Court</court>

During laparoscopic surgery to correct endometriosis in a 20-year-old woman, a blood vessel in the abdominal wall was nicked. The gynecologist switched to an open procedure with a transverse incision to repair the bleeding vessel. Patient recovery was prolonged, with slow healing of the incision. A year later, the woman had an ectopic pregnancy.

In suing, the woman claimed that the ectopic pregnancy was related to the open procedure. She asserted that the physician was negligent in nicking the abdominal wall blood vessel and that the low transverse incision during the open surgery complicated the healing process.

The physician denied negligence and countered that the injury was a known potential complication of the laparoscopic procedure. The physician contended that the ectopic pregnancy was related instead to the woman’s history of pelvic inflammatory disease.

  • The jury returned a defense verdict.

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 ( The available information about the cases presented here is sometimes incomplete; thus, pertinent details of a given situation may be unavailable. 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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