On November 14, 2013, a federal medical malpractice jury in Oregon found that a gynecologist negligently treated his patient by wrongfully removing her healthy ovary during robotic surgery for pelvic pain, and left a foreign object in her body after the surgical robot allegedly malfunctioned, which he did not advise his patient. The jury that consisted of four women and three men awarded the woman and her husband in excess of $10,500 for the woman’s medical expenses and $100,000 in noneconomic damages for the woman’s pain and mental anguish, but did not award her husband any amount for his loss of consortium claim.
The woman had sought treatment from the gynecologist in 2007 for pelvic pain. The gynecologist offered the woman robotic surgery using the da Vinci surgical system to remove her right ovary, her fallopian tube, and her appendix, to which the woman consented. But after the surgery, it was determined that the removed organs were healthy and functioning properly. Unbeknownst to the woman, the da Vinci robot allegedly malfunctioned during her September 28, 2007 surgery.
More than three years after her robotic surgery, the woman had a CT scan that revealed a laparoscopy sheath had been left behind during her da Vinci surgery. She had surgery to remove the sheath as well as to remove birth-control devices. The plaintiffs filed their medical malpractice case in the U.S. District Court, where the jury heard two days of testimony from the plaintiffs and seven physicians before the jury rendered its verdict in favor of the plaintiffs.
According to the Oregon Board of Medicine website, the same gynecologist was subject to a Corrective Action Order on January 15, 2004 in which the gynecologist agreed to obtain Board approval prior to resuming the practice of obstetric medicine; work with a physician mentor; continue treatment with a mental health provider; maintain appropriate professional conduct; hysterectomy procedures to be reviewed; and, cross coverage by a physician.
The Corrective Action Order was modified on July 9, 2004 and again on January 13, 2005. The Corrective Action Order was terminated on January 12, 2006.
We wonder if the woman went to the Oregon Board of Medicine’s website before selecting the gynecologist to treat her and to perform her surgery. If the woman had done so, we wonder if she still would have consented to the gynecologist performing her surgery.
The lessons that should be learned from this case of medical malpractice: you should thoroughly and timely research your physician’s credentials, experience and prior results regarding the proposed treatment, training in the procedures you may require, and the physician’s disciplinary history that may be relevant to your decision to have the physician treat and care for you. Also, obtain a second opinion when appropriate.
Nonetheless, if you suffered injuries as a result of medical malpractice despite your due diligence in choosing your medical provider, you should promptly consult with a local medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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