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Medical Verdicts


Necrotizing fasciitis, death follow tubal ligation

April 2004 · Vol. 16, No. 4

<court>Cook County (Ill) Circuit Court</court>

The day after a tubal ligation procedure, doctors discovered an infection in the 49-year-old woman’s abdomen, which they diagnosed as peritonitis. The infection, they determined, stemmed from an undetected puncture in the woman’s bladder that occurred at the time of surgery.

The woman was prescribed antibiotics, and surgery was initiated to close the hole and cleanse the abdomen. During this procedure, however, the patient went into shock and had to be placed on a ventilator.

In the following days, the woman experienced severe bruising of her abdomen and genitals. Antibiotic therapy was continued. An infectious disease specialist was not consulted.

Ultimately, a surgeon recognized the patient’s findings as those of necrotizing fasciitis. Despite attempts to remove the infected tissue, the woman died 9 days after the tubal ligation.

In suing, the woman’s family claimed that had the doctors recognized and treated the fasciitis in a timely manner, the patient would have survived. Further, they argued, tubal ligation should never have been performed on a 49-year-old woman in stable health.

The defense argued that not only was the patient’s infection exceedingly rare, but it manifested in an unusual manner, complicating the diagnosis.

  • The jury awarded the plaintiff $6.5 million.

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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