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Medical Verdicts


Laminaria discovered in uterus 8 years after abortion

December 2002 · Vol. 14, No. 12

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

A 19-year-old female presented to a woman’s center for an abortion. On the first day of the 2-day procedure, the physician inserted 3 laminaria into the patient’s vagina in order to stretch the cervix. The following day, a second physician performed the abortion under real-time ultrasound.

Eight years later, the patient experienced severe cramping and bleeding, which led to a laparoscopy. Clinicians discovered that the laminaria used during the abortion remained inside the woman.

In suing, the plaintiff claimed that she suffered cramping and heavy bleeding during menstruation as well as pelvic pain for the full 8 years between the 2 procedures. She contended that the first doctor, who had since deceased, inserted the laminaria into her uterus, rather than her cervix. She further maintained that the physician who performed the abortion was also negligent for not discovering and removing the laminaria.

The doctor who performed the abortion argued the deceased doctor misplaced the laminaria; since there was no trace of them on ultrasound, he assumed they had discharged spontaneously. The defense for the deceased physician claimed the second doctor was fully responsible for not removing the laminaria.

  • The jury found both defendants liable and awarded the plaintiff $200,000.

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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