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Medical Verdicts


Colon, ileum damage follow hysterectomy

April 2004 · Vol. 16, No. 4

<court>Los Angeles County (Calif) Superior Court</court>

A 41-year-old woman presented to her gynecologist with a large cyst encapsulating one of her ovaries. A hysterectomy was performed. Three days later, the patient developed sepsis, with green matter leaking from her vagina. An examination revealed a vaginal fistula.

During an exploratory laparotomy, a general surgeon discovered 1 hole in the ileum and 2 holes in the transverse colon. The patient underwent a colon resection and a colostomy. She subsequently had a colostomy reversal. She claimed that she still experiences diarrhea, cramps, and dehydration, and that she can no longer work standing up, which her job as a surgical technician requires. In addition, she was diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder following the experience.

In suing, the patient claimed the surgeon was negligent for failing to check the integrity of the colon and ileum before closing the operative site. She noted that she had extensive adhesions due to previous surgery, and that she had made the physician aware of their presence. This knowledge, she claimed, should have prompted him to run a thorough check. Had the damage been discovered during the hysterectomy, she maintained, the consequences would have been less severe.

The doctor maintained that he inspected the bowel where he lysed adhesions, and found no leaks. He noted that injury may have occurred independent of negligence.

  • The jury returned a defense verdict.

The cases presented here were compiled by Lewis L. Laska, editor of Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts (www.verdictslaska.com). 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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