Medical Verdicts

Medical Verdicts

NOTABLE JUDGMENTS AND SETTLEMENTS IN BRIEF


 

Woman recants request for hysterectomy after she remarries

<court> Harris County (Tex) District Court </court>

Over the course of 12 years, a woman had various obstetric and gynecologic problems, among them adhesions, ovarian cysts, and possible endometriosis. She had ongoing pelvic pain, which was occasionally severe. She was treated with various medications and underwent several surgeries, including removal of her left fallopian tube and ovary due to infection.

After having 2 children, the woman had her remaining tube ligated. Six years later she presented to an emergency department complaining of severe pelvic pain. Three days after a surgical consult suggested the pelvic pain was gynecologic in origin, she requested and underwent a hysterectomy.

In suing, the woman, now divorced and remarried, contended the physician should have obtained more consults, including a psychiatry consult, prior to the hysterectomy to rule out other causes of the pelvic pain. She claimed her request for the hysterectomy did not justify the performance of the procedure. She noted that she had a new marriage and planned to have her tubal ligation reversed because of a desire to have more children.

  • The jury returned a defense verdict.

Was Brannon pack “ too big to overlook ” ?

<court> Hillsborough County (Fla) Circuit Court </court>

After a total abdominal hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy for abdominal pain and postmenstrual spotting, a 43-year-old woman had a temperature as high as 102 ° F and bilious projectile vomiting. An x-ray 3 days after surgery revealed a foreign object in the upper abdomen. During exploratory laparotomy, a lap sponge (Brannon pack) was removed.

In suing, the woman claimed the physician was negligent in failing to remove the Brannon pack. The defense asserted that the physician was entitled to rely on the hospital staff report that the sponge count was correct. The woman claimed the Brannon pack was so large that it should not have been overlooked.

  • The hospital settled prior to the filing of the lawsuit for an undisclosed amount. The jury awarded the plaintiff $22,500.

Manifold errors charged in cerebral palsy case

<court> King ’ s County (NY) Supreme Court </court>

At 29 weeks ’ gestation, a woman with diabetes and a history of preterm delivery was admitted for mild-to-moderate contractions. Her physician and the perinatologist on staff ordered magnesium sulfate to stop contractions, but labor progressed. The infant was born with Apgar scores of 4 and 4. She was limp, blue, and not breathing. She was intubated for 4 days and discharged after 3 months, with a diagnosis of periventricular leukomalacia. The child has no use of her legs and little use of her right arm. She is wheel-chair bound and cannot attend to her daily needs. She has full cognition and above-average intelligence and is doing well in school.

In suing the hospital and the physicians, the woman claimed the physicians should have prescribed antibiotics because infection is a known cause of preterm labor. She also asserted that the hospital and the physician improperly reduced the magnesium sulfate, allowing labor to progress. She claimed the hospital staff failed to monitor the fetal heart tracings, which revealed variable decelerations, reduced accelerations, and reduced variability. She claimed failure to perform a cesarean section resulted in cerebral palsy and brain damage.

The hospital maintained the physician was in charge of the labor and delivery, and made all the decisions. The defendants claimed the care given was appropriate.

  • The jury awarded the plaintiff $29.3 million, with fault divided 35% to the hospital and 65% to the physician. The plaintiff had agreed to a high/low settlement with the hospital only; a $5 million settlement was reached.

Defense: Consent form warned of dangers

<court> Fresno County (Calif) Superior Court </court>

A 39-year-old woman with a 1-year history of pelvic pressure due to uterine fibroids under-went a hysterectomy. Five days after hospital discharge, she complained of urinary incontinence. A urologist diagnosed a vesicovaginal fistula and recommended surgery.

Ultrasound examination of the kidneys a month later was suggestive of a left ureter injury. The bladder leak and the ureter were repaired soon afterward.

In suing, the woman claimed the physician performed the hysterectomy negligently and failed to perform a postoperative intravenous pyelogram to reveal the bladder and ureter problems.

Denying negligence, the surgeon pointed out that the written consent form explained the risks posed to other organs by the surgery. He noted that the surgical field had substantial adhesions and scar tissue, complicating the procedure. He also claimed the woman would not consent to an intravenous pyelogram because of an iodine allergy.

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