WIDE LOCAL EXCISION was performed on a 42-year-old woman with vulvar intraepithelial neoplasm, VIN II, with moderate dysplasia. Her ObGyn performed the surgery.
Instead of applying a diluted solution of acetic acid wash to delineate the borders of the dysplastic area, a highly concentrated acetic acid or trichloroacetic acid was used. The patient suffered severe chemical burns of the vulva that took several months to heal. She has permanent scarring of the vulvar area, severe tenderness, discoloration, and atrophy of the vaginal opening, with a band of thick scar tissue at the posterior fourchette. The perineum, extending to the anal area, is scarred, including a 2-mm plaque layer.
PATIENT’S CLAIM Sexual intercourse is extremely painful, and therefore impossible. She suffers discomfort at all times. Additional surgery has been recommended to alleviate her condition.
DEFENDANTS’ DEFENSE The case was settled before trial.
VERDICT A $600,000 Ohio settlement was reached.
Large baby with cervical spine injury
A WOMAN WAS IN LABOR with her third child. Her first baby was born by cesarean delivery. During the vaginal birth of her second child, shoulder dystocia was encountered; this child weighed 8 lb 4 oz at birth.
Using ultrasonography, the ObGyn determined vaginal birth was appropriate. Shoulder dystocia was encountered and the infant suffered injuries to the cervical spine and right arm. The newborn weighed 9 lb 13 oz.
PATIENT’S CLAIM The baby’s weight was grossly underestimated prior to delivery; ultrasonography was not properly performed or evaluated. The mother’s history, large fundal height, estimated fetal weight, and the mother’s request for a cesarean delivery should have resulted in the performance of a cesarean delivery.
PHYSICIAN’S DEFENSE Shoulder dystocia was not reasonably foreseeable. Injuries to the baby were due to the forces of labor.
VERDICT A confidential Texas settlement was reached.
Suture causes nerve damage
PELVIC PROLAPSE RECONSTRUCTION was performed; surgery included a pubovaginal sling procedure with graft, and repairs of Grade 2 cystocele and Grade 3 rectocele. The gynecologist used transvaginal sutures to attach the mesh to the sacrospinous ligament.
The patient immediately reported pain, tingling, and weakness in her buttocks and legs. The gynecologist diagnosed a hematoma and continued conservative treatment while waiting for the hematoma to resorb.
After 10 days, the patient terminated the gynecologist’s services and left the hospital. She saw a neurologist, who diagnosed proximal sciatic nerve irritation secondary to suturing. When a suture was removed from the sacral spinous ligament plexus, many of the patient’s neurologic symptoms immediately resolved. She still has pain and walks with a noticeable limp using a cane.
PATIENT’S CLAIM The gynecologist failed to determine that a suture was causing nerve damage. Removal of the suture within the first 3 days would have avoided neurologic injury.
PHYSICIAN’S DEFENSE Postsurgical care was proper. A neurologist was consulted, and a sonogram had ruled out deep vein thrombosis.
VERDICT A $1.58 million Illinois verdict was returned.
Colon damage after embolization
UTERINE FIBROID EMBOLIZATION was performed on a 51-year-old woman. The next day, she reported severe abdominal pain and was readmitted. A uterine infection was suspected, and she underwent a hysterectomy. Necrosis of the colon was found; a surgeon removed one-third of the colon and performed a colostomy. She underwent several operations, including rectal-vaginal fistula repair, before the colostomy was corrected.
PATIENT’S CLAIM Misdirected embolization injured an artery supplying the colon. She continues to suffer ongoing fecal urgency and frequency.
PHYSICIAN’S DEFENSE An anomalous connection between the patient’s uterine artery and mesenteric artery was impossible for the physician to have known prior to the embolization procedure.
VERDICT A California defense verdict was returned.
SEVERAL HOURS AFTER A WOMAN’S LABOR BEGAN, fetal bradycardia developed precipitously. The on-call ObGyn arrived after 10 minutes and ordered an immediate cesarean delivery, which occurred 22 minutes later. The child suffered a catastrophic, irreversible brain injury. He lived for 39 days before life support was removed and he died.
ESTATE’S CLAIM The nurses did not report decelerations to the ObGyn, and they were slow to notify him of the fetal bradycardia. The child would not have been injured if the nursing staff had reacted appropriately.
DEFENDANTS’ DEFENSE Isolated heart-rate decelerations during labor are not troubling. A cord accident occurred, which could not be predicted nor avoided. The ObGyn was called promptly; the emergency cesarean delivery was performed quickly. However, the injury already had occurred and was irreparable.
VERDICT A $1.18 million Kentucky verdict was returned. The hospital sought a mistrial because Facebook postings by a juror proved the case had been discussed and prejudged. The court found in favor of the hospital on its post-trial motion.