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    Legally Speaking: Tubal ligation failure results in wrongful pregnancy claim


    Bowel injury following elective cesarean delivery

    An obstetrician performed an elective cesarean delivery on a Texas woman in her mid-thirties in 2010. The patient was seen by that doctor the day after surgery, and by a partner on the second and third postoperative days. She was discharged on day 3 and, within 36 hours, developed a fever and became ill while at the pediatrician’s office with her daughter. The pediatrician’s staff placed the patient in a wheelchair and took her to the adjacent hospital’s emergency room. She was worked up for a pulmonary embolism, but tests were negative. A CT scan showed free air in the abdomen and emergency laparotomy was performed by a general surgeon with the obstetrician observing. An area of the cecum was inflamed and a small amount of bowel contents was found to be leaking. A primary anastomosis was performed to repair the bowel with no colostomy required.

    The woman sued the original obstetrician, alleging negligence in injuring the cecum during the cesarean. She claimed that pressure from a retractor pinched and injured the bowel during the cesarean and the perforation developed over the next several days. She also alleged that the hospital staff was negligent in failing to properly document her condition and complications prior to discharge, claiming she had fever, tachycardia, and irregular bowel movements that indicated a cecum injury.

    Injuries from known risks may lead to monetary awards

    The hospital settled for a confidential amount early in the litigation. The obstetrician denied that the cecum was injured in the cesarean and claimed that the perforation was caused by Ogilvie’s syndrome. The physician also pointed to lack of contamination of the abdominal viscera at the time of laparotomy to support the claim that the perforation was acute and did not occur during the cesarean. In addition, the obstetrician noted that the retractor was not located anywhere near the cecum.

    The verdict

    A defense verdict was returned.


    Dawn Collins, JD
    MS COLLINS is an attorney specializing in medical malpractice in Long Beach, California. She welcomes feedback on this column via ...


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