The woman had suffered the miscarriage of her 14-week-old fetus in 2007. As a result of the miscarriage, she needed to undergo a procedure known as a dilation and curettage (commonly referred to as a “D & C”). She thought that her obstetrician/gynecologist was going to perform the D&C but it was a hospital resident who dilated her cervix and her uterus was then perforated. While attempting to remove the fetal remains by using ring forceps inserted through the perforated uterus, a section of bowel was unintentionally grabbed and her rectum and bowel were torn.
The woman’s bowel injuries required her to have an ileostomy, which involves surgically creating an opening through the skin through which a section of the small intestine (the ileum) is brought to the surface so that intestinal waste passes into an external bag. The woman had to use the ileostomy bag for three months. Her permanent injuries included the loss of a portion of her bowel and rectum. She has also suffered permanent alteration in her bowel pattern along with pain, suffering, and scarring.
This Michigan medical malpractice case raises important considerations and concerns. It is often acknowledged that doctors must have opportunities to practice on patients in order to gain experience so that they can become competent in completing medical procedures. Most of the newly graduated medical doctors gain the necessary experience in “teaching hospitals,” which are typically associated with medical schools throughout the U.S. It is understood and accepted that new doctors need to gain the necessary experience to become competent practitioners by performing the procedures under the supervision and guidance of more experienced doctors. The supervising doctors need to provide a sufficient level of supervision and direction to insure patient safety but at the same time allow the new doctors to attempt the procedures without their supervisors taking over the entire procedures.
The Balancing Act
As part of the required informed consent discussion between patients and their doctors, it is common for the informed consent forms signed by patients to state matter-of-factly that medical personnel other than the specifically named doctor may perform part of the procedure or otherwise participate in the procedure. These other participants often include residents-in-training who may actually do the cutting and manipulate surgical instruments during critical portions of the surgery. Patients are often not told ahead of time what portions of the medical procedure will be completed entirely by the named medical provider or which portions will be completed by other, unidentified medical providers (or how closely the less-experienced doctors will be supervised).
Let’s be honest: if you or your child were undergoing a medical procedure, whether it be major emergency surgery or a relatively minor procedure (such as the D & C that the Michigan woman had), wouldn’t you want only the surgeon or other medical provider you selected, who has the most practical experience and medical training, perform all aspects of the procedure for the greatest likelihood of the best possible outcome and the smallest possibility of suffering complications from the procedure? Why should you have to accept the services of a less-qualified or less-experienced doctor providing your necessary medical care?
And in this day and age when so-called medical malpractice tort reforms limit the amounts that you can receive in compensation if the negligence of your medical provider caused you to be seriously and permanently injured, isn’t it even more important that you should able to select your own medical providers and reject other, unnamed medical providers to participate in your medical care?
If you, a family member, or a friend have been injured due to possible medical malpractice, the advice of a medical malpractice attorney is essential. Visit our website or telephone us toll free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with local medical malpractice lawyers who may be able to assist you in investigating your potential medical malpractice claim and file a medical malpractice case on your behalf, if appropriate.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.