Ureter Injury During Hysterectomy Leads to $400,000 Settlement | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

What Happened

Our Virginia medical malpractice client had to undergo several surgeries to repair a ureter that her OB/GYN negligently severed while performing a laparoscopic hysterectomy.

The woman was retired from the Newport News, VA, Police Department when she began experiencing persistent abdominal pain. Results from X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans and other tests led her physician to recommend removal of her uterus and ovaries.

The OB/GYN performed the hysterectomy by making a small incision in our client’s stomach and using a camera on a wire to guide his surgical instruments. Such laparoscopic techniques spare patients from long recoveries, but the cameras also limit surgeons’ ability to see organs, blood vessels and other structures near the organs on which they are operating.

Limited vision appears to have caused the OB/GYN to cut through our Virginia medical malpractice client’s ureter without noticing the life-threatening error. A ureter connects each kidney to the bladder. When a ureter gets severed, urine and other biological waste products leak into the injured person’s abdominal cavity, which slowly poisons the person.

It took several days for doctors to identify the severed ureter, and three repair procedures were needed. In addition to experiencing completely avoidable pain and suffering, our Virginia medical malpractice client racked up medical bills of around $100,000 while dealing with the surgeon’s error.

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Key Legal Strategy

Our Virginia medical malpractice attorney forced the OB/GYN’s insurance company into settlement negotiations almost immediately. Our lawyer was able to spare his client long delays and an unnecessary civil jury trial by producing evidence that surgeons who perform laparoscopic hysterectomies usually run a simple test to determine if they have made contact with or damaged a ureter. The OB/GYN who operated on his client did not do that test.

Unable to deny their medical malpractice policyholder’s negligence and faced with overwhelming documentation of the complications and health problems caused by the OB/GYN’s surgical error, the insurance company agreed to settle all claims for $400,000.

Medical malpractice cases are rarely so easy to prove. We are glad that this woman’s case resolved quickly, but we always stand ready to fight for our clients.

Staff: Staff attorney