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Medical Verdicts


Were ovaries removed without consent?

October 2003 · Vol. 15, No. 10

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

A 38-year-old woman complained of pelvic pain on her left side. Her physician performed an ultrasound and discovered multiple uterine fibroids. He recommended she undergo surgery once the pain became unbearable.

Three months later, the woman reported cramping and severe pain during intercourse. The doctor prescribed a painkiller and scheduled a surgery in 2 months. Since the consulting doctor no longer performed surgery, the woman was referred to his partner.

During her preoperative visit, the patient was given an informed consent form for hysterectomy in which ovary removal was mentioned. At trial the woman claimed to have told the doctor she did not want her ovaries removed. She said the physician called the form a formality and reassured her that he would not remove her ovaries.

During the operation, the doctor discovered severe endometriosis over both ovaries, obliterating the pelvic cul-de-sac. The woman’s condition was further complicated by severe adhesions. The doctor then performed a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy and prescribed a course of hormone replacement therapy.

In suing, the woman claimed the doctor lacked informed consent to remove her ovaries. She also reiterated her strong desire to preserve her ovaries despite the pathology.

The doctor contended that he had acted within the standard of care and said the woman’s signature on the consent form approved the possibility of ovary removal. He also argued that the severe condition of her ovaries necessitated removal.

  • The jury returned a defense verdict.

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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