Was ovary removed without consent?
<court>Buchanan County (Mo) Circuit Court</court>
A 33-year-old woman presented to a hospital with severe pain in her lower right quadrant. She had had a hysterectomy 11 years earlier due to painful adhesions; a painful right ovarian cyst 7 years prior was treated with analgesics and oral contraceptives.
An ultrasound revealed a simple cyst on the right ovary. The consulting Ob/Gyn ordered a 5-week regimen of analgesics and oral contraceptives. Symptoms persisted after the regimen’s completion, however, so the physician recommended surgery.
The following day the woman had a bilateral oophorectomy. Five days after discharge she returned to the hospital with lower abdominal pain. Testing revealed injury to her left ureter, which was leaking urine resulting in urinoma. A nephrostomy tube was inserted; she wore this with a collecting bag for the following 2 months, after which the ureter was repaired.
In suing, the woman claimed to have consented to removal of her right ovary only—not both. She noted all pain following her hysterectomy had been on her right side. Further, she claimed the physician was negligent for injuring her ureter at the time of surgery, most likely by use of a clamp.
The defendant maintained the patient wanted a bilateral oophorectomy to prevent future pain. He argued that the left ovary was diseased, and noted that at surgery it was scarred and attached to the pelvic sidewall. He denied using a clamp.
- The first trial resulted in a hung jury. The jury in the second trial returned a defense verdict.
The cases in this column are selected by the editors of OBG Management from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts, with permission of the editor, Lewis Laska, of Nashville, Tenn (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.