Ovarian cyst removal results in sigmoid colon injury
A New York woman in her forties underwent surgical removal of a cyst on her ovary, performed by her gynecologist. Over the next few days the patient experienced severe abdominal pain. Tests showed varying amounts of white blood cells in her blood and she underwent exploratory surgery which revealed a tear in her sigmoid colon. She had a colostomy and a follow-up operation after that.
The patient sued the gynecologist and hospital and alleged they failed to properly perform the initial surgery– even though the tear was a known risk of the operation – and that he failed to diagnose and treat the injury in a timely manner. She claimed she had 10 days of symptoms that should have prompted more immediate action from the gynecologist, thereby avoiding the need for the colostomy.
The defense maintained that the operation was not the cause of the injury to the colon, that the surgery did not take place near the sigmoid colon, but that injury to the bowel is an accepted risk to that procedure and days can pass before injuries can be identified. After deliberating for 4 1/2 hours at the conclusion of a 7-day trial, the jury returned a verdict in the amount of $1,520,000, including $20,000 past lost earnings capability; $700,000 past pain and suffering; and $800,000 future pain and suffering.
Delay in fetal monitoring with decreased fetal movement
A 34-year-old Georgia woman was at 35 weeks gestation of her second pregnancy when she presented to her obstetrician for routine prenatal care. She had gestational diabetes and her visit was unremarkable. Two days later, the patient presented back to the office with complaints of decreased fetal movement. She was admitted to the hospital for continuous fetal monitoring, consultation with a perinatologist, and possible delivery. She was not placed on the fetal monitor until 2 hours after arrival, and 1 hour later, the perinatologist was consulted by phone and ordered a biophysical profile (BPP). Six hours after her arrival the BPP was performed and an emergency cesarean was done. The infant was diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, profound developmental delays, cortical blindness, and seizures. The infant requires around-the-clock care. She is at home with her mother and will never walk or talk, or care for herself.
The parents sued those involved and claimed the infant’s injuries were due to mismanagement of the mother’s labor and the delivery. They alleged that immediate BPP should have been performed which was the standard of care with decreased fetal movement but was not ordered until almost 4 hours after the patient was admitted to the hospital. They asserted that 3 ultrasonographers were on duty at the time the patient was at the hospital and any one of them could have performed the essential test immediately, as hospital protocol requires. One ultrasound tech was allegedly on break; another was performing other tests; and the third was not notified of the BPP order because of a problem with the hospital’s ordering system.
The defense claimed that the infant’s issues were a result of her mother’s failure to keep her gestational diabetes under control and that any injury occurred prior to her arrival at the hospital when she noted decreased fetal movement. After deliberating 9 hours at the conclusion of a 3-week trial, a $30,545,655 verdict was returned, including $27,045,655 to the child for future medical costs and $3,500,000 to the mother for past and future pain and suffering.