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Medical Verdicts

Misdiagnosis leads to unnecessary hysterectomy

June 2002 · Vol. 14, No. 6
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<court>Manchester County (Conn) Superior Court</court>—A 32-year-old woman presented to a hospital for an exploratory laparotomy, during which an ovarian mass was discovered. To preserve the patient’s fertility, her Ob/Gyn opted to perform an ovarian cystectomy. During the procedure, the physician resected some tissue and sent it to pathology for a frozen section. Shortly after, the pathologist reported back that the mass was “unequivocally malignant.” As a result, the patient underwent a total abdominal hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. Postoperatively, the pathologist notified the physician of an error in the diagnosis; the woman did not, in fact, have cancer.

In suing, the patient claimed that the pathologist should have consulted with an oncologist or another pathologist to confirm the diagnosis. Further, she argued that he should have waited to diagnose permanent sections to verify malignancy, rather than rely on the frozen section only.

The case settled for $1 million.

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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