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Legal: Bladder injury following hysterectomy

A woman underwent a hysterectomy by a gynecologist employed by a government-run clinic and sued for negligence.

IN 2005, A KENTUCKY WOMAN underwent a hysterectomy that was performed by a gynecologist employed by a government-run health clinic. The patient suffered incontinence and other urinary complications after the procedure and was referred to a urologist. A vesicovaginal fistula was diagnosed on the back of the bladder; it was successfully repaired. The woman sued the gynecologist in US District Court and claimed the physician was negligent in injuring the bladder and not immediately repairing it. She claimed that the doctor admitted that she nicked the bladder, but thought it would heal on its own, which the physician denied. The operative note was dictated 18 days after the procedure.

The gynecologist argued that there was no surgical injury and that the bladder wall later broke down due to postsurgical denervation. She claimed that the patient's initial urine output was good and if there had been a bladder injury there would have been immediate symptoms. A defense verdict was returned.

Department editor DAWN COLLINS, JD, is an attorney specializing in medical malpractice in Long Beach, CA. She welcomes feedback on this column via e-mail to dawncfree@gmail.com