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Medical Verdicts

Laparotomy leads to massive blood loss

September 2005 · Vol. 17, No. 9
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<court>Kings County (NY) Supreme Court</court>

An 18-year-old woman with a history of chronic pelvic pain and heavy menstrual periods was referred to a gynecologist for a laparoscopy. Abnormal internal bleeding that could not be controlled was encountered soon after the procedure began. An exploratory laparotomy was then performed. Injuries were found in 4 separate intra-abdominal structures: the iliac vein was lacerated, the small intestine had perforations in 2 separate locations, and a mesenteric blood vessel was also lacerated.

The woman asserted that the trocar was not inserted correctly and that she sustained motor and sensory impairments as well as cognitive deficits due to the large volume of blood lost during the procedure. She also claimed lack of informed consent in that she was not told the injuries were known risks of the surgery. She also claimed that despite losing 60% of her blood volume, she did not receive a blood transfusion.

The physician contended that the trocar and protective sheath might not have retracted properly and that the injuries sustained were a known risk of the procedure.

  • The jury 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 ( 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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