Our client, a first grade school teacher, agreed to undergo a laparoscopic hysterectomy on July 9, 2010 at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. She was suffering from excessive vaginal bleeding and doctor's discovered pre-cancerous ovarian cysts. Instead of being released the next day as planned, she failed to pass gas or urinate and was held in the hospital an extra day. Despite not accomplishing either, she was discharged at the end of the second day.
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After having her first solid food on that Sunday evening, she experienced immediate vomiting, nausea, general abdominal pain, and could not sleep that night. She visited her OB/GYN's office the next morning who promptly re-admitted her to Sinai Hospital where she was unable to pass gas for several days, ran a fever and was placed on antibiotics. Finally, after eight days of hospitalization, she was transferred to intensive care by a general surgeon due to shortness of breath and tachycardia. The exploratory abdominal surgery found several abscesses and a 1-centimeter perforation at the recto-sigmoid colon area. A perforation is a fancy word for cut. Basically, there was a 1-centimeter wound from her cut colon.
Serious Pain, Damage, and Embarassment
The repairing surgeon sutured the perforation. They then had to create a diverting colostomy requiring defecating into a colostomy bag. Our client was forced to undergo five exploratory abdominal washout procedures, and was hospitalized for about 40 days. She required a colostomy reversal hospitalization eight months later and then recovered well, except for one bowel obstruction in 2014 that a different surgeon attributed to her abdominal incisional hernia.
Our client's total medical expenses were about $200,000.00 and she claimed $34,000.00 in lost wages from her school teaching job in Baltimore.
Her OB/GYN surgeon never provided her an explanation of what had gone wrong. Our law firm was retained nearly two years after her hysterectomy, and later our firm brought in Maryland licensed co-counsel, David Kopstein, to team with Virginia medical malpractice lawyer Richard N. Shapiro at trial.
In litigation, the surgeon and his retained experts claimed that the hysterectomy went without any incident, and the perforation was caused by a sudden rupture of a diverticulum.
Our Virginia medical negligence law firm retained a standard of care OB/GYN from Baltimore, and also a colo-rectal surgeon. The colo-rectal surgeon testified the patient did not suffer a ruptured diverticulum, and never suffered diverticulitis. Further, he testified the colon perforation likely occurred within 24 hours of the original hysterectomy surgery.
The OB/GYN expert testified that there were four different surgical tools that cut or burn used in the laparoscopic hysterectomy and it was most likely the harmonic scalpel or the power morcellator which damaged the colon although any of the instruments could have caused the damage. Our OB/GYN expert testified that cutting the colon in a routine hysterectomy-by any surgical tool, was a medical standard of care violation. The defendant OB/GYN testified that he inspected all surfaces and saw no evidence of any colon damage at the time the surgery was completed.
Interestingly, the surgical resident assisting the defendant doctor during the hysterectomy did not dictate the operative report until six days after the surgery. Also, the operative report was never electronically signed by the defendant doctor for over two and a half months.
Our legal team argued this was strong circumstantial evidence that the surgeon was aware that the colon damage likely occurred during the hysterectomy, and that the ruptured diverticulum defense had no support whatsoever in the medical records.
Justice for Our Client
After the 5-day trial, the jury deliberated much of the sixth day before returning an $860,000.00 verdict in our favor, the Plaintiff’s requested damages.
Our client was very pleased with the outcome of her cut/perforated colon medical malpractice trial. Read her testimonial here.
- Court: Baltimore City circuit court, Maryland
- Date: February 1, 2016
- Law Firm Attorney: Richard N. Shapiro
- Co-Counsel: David Kopstein
- Law Firm Staff: Paula M., Roz H., Melissa K., Paralegals