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    Legally Speaking: Pre-trial agreements alter monetary awards


    Failed tubal ligation results in unintended pregnancy

    A Maryland woman and her husband decided that they no longer wanted to have children and expressed this to the woman’s gynecologist, who recommended that she undergo a laparoscopic tubal ligation. Several months later, the patient became pregnant and gave birth to a son.

    They sued the gynecologist and claimed that this additional child put an economic hardship on the family, now raising 4 children. The fourth child has language delays and learning disabilities.

    The gynecologist contended that a known, common complication of this procedure can be the regrowth of the fallopian tubes, resulting in unintended pregnancy.

    The verdict

    The verdict was for the patient and her husband. The award was $240,000 for the cost of raising a fourth child and $157,000 to cope with the child’s special needs, for a total of $397,000.

    Torn sigmoid colon during ovarian cyst surgery

    A New York woman in her 40s had a large cyst on her ovary surgically removed in a hospital by her gynecologist. Following the operation, the patient experienced intense abdominal pain, which went undiagnosed for 10 days. When the patient was seen, her white blood cell count was abnormal and exploratory surgery was done, which revealed a tear in the sigmoid colon. A colostomy was done and the woman had another operation to repair the tear and a residual hernia.

    The patient sued the original gynecologist, claiming that her colon was torn during the first surgery and that he failed to properly perform the procedure and to address the injury in a timely manner.

    Next: Rates of unintended pregnancy in US at historic low

    The gynecologist argued that colon injury is a known complication of this procedure and such injuries are not readily identified until days after the operation.

    The verdict

    The jury awarded the patient $20,000 in past lost earnings, $700,000 in past pain and suffering, and $800,000 in future pain and suffering, for a total award of $1.520 million.

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    • UBM User
      After years of reading about trial and settlement results, it strikes me that there is no real educational purpose reading about the cases selected. Clearly, as readers not privy to the additional details necessary to render a peer-reviewed opinion, we are left with a recurring theme. What are we supposed to conclude? Let's be frank - it is simply that our current tort system is incapable - by its own design - to render a predictable outcome. Attempts to rationalize this are disingenuous, at best. This is a national disgrace and our respective physician representative organizations have been frustrated for decades at every attempt to reform it by making the system fairer to the alleged injured party and to the providers who render care. OBGs and our specialty have taken many direct hits as a result. So, why do keep reading about these cases? Why are we even considering a strategy where the physician is put in a "catch-22" and loses each time? It may have something to do with the fact that the people in control of the system like it that way because they benefit? If they were actually concerned about the unreliable results of "their system" and if they had a conscious they would be proponents for an alternative system where justice could be reliably metered out.


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