Cut Ureter During Hysterectomy Malpractice Lawsuit

Sellers v. Simmonds, Martin, & Helmbrecht, Chartered

appendicitismalpractice This is an OB/GYN malpractice case filed on behalf of a woman in Montgomery County. This case was filed in Health Claims Arbitration on July 1, 2016, and is the 327th medical malpractice case filed in 2016 in Maryland. The case number for this malpractice lawsuit is 424231V.

Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations

Plaintiff is a 35-year-old woman who goes to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville for a total laparoscopic hysterectomy with bilateral salpingectomy after childbirth. It is called a cesarean hysterectomy but it is really two separate procedures: a C-section and a hysterectomy. The latter procedure involves removal of the cervix, both ovaries, and fallopian tubes.

During the procedure, a crush injury occurs to the right ureter, allegedly because the OB/GYN did not know the where the uterus was. Once her doctors realize this, she correctly orders a urology consult during the procedure. The urologist finds injuries consistent with a significant ureteral injury and places a stent. Once the stent is in place, defendant doctor re-assumes care of the plaintiff in order to complete the hysterectomy.

The failure to safeguard the ureter during a hysterectomy can result in a ureter being mistakenly ligated or cut. Inadvertent tying off, clipping or cutting of the ureter may cause obstruction of urine or leakage of urine into the abdominal and pelvic cavities. This can also cause kidney damage or infection.

Regrettably, this patient has post-operative complications requiring more urologic procedures and extensive treaters for her injury. She files a claim, due to the severe and permanent injuries she sustained during the procedure. Plaintiff alleges she has had to go multiple corrective surgeries, has a loss of kidney function, has both past and future rehabilitative expenses, suffers a loss of consortium, and will continue to lose wages.

Additional Comments
  • The essence of this case is that you cannot cut or clip what you cannot see. In other words, she failed to properly identify the path of the ureter in the operative field. A cousin of this type of malpractice is gallbladder removal cases. In these cases, it is not the ureter that gets cut but the common bile duct.
  • This case is about the injury to the ureter during the hysterectomy procedure itself. Usually, these cases the OB/GYN will transect the ureter during her hysterectomy procedure but fail to recognize there was a transaction. In this case, the doctor did the right thing after the alleged breach by identifying the injury and getting a urology consult. All things being equal, this is a tough case.
  • The defense in these cases is often that the patient was a "one in a million" with significant adhesions or an abnormal anatomy. But that does not change the core of the case: don't cut unless you know where you are. As plaintiff's expert points out, ureteral catheters would have helped the doctor see the ureter during the procedure. Another on-the-fly option available to the surgeon is to convert the procedure to an open procedure (more traditional surgery) which would give a better visual field.
Jurisdiction
  • Montgomery County
Defendants Hospitals Where Patient was Treated
  • Shady Grove Adventist Hospital (who is not a defendant)
Negligence
  • Causing a preventable iatrogenic injury to plaintiff's ureter during surgery
  • Failing to properly locate and visualize plaintiff's ureters prior to placing clamps
  • Failing to dissect the ureters and failing to consult with a urologist if visualization was not possible
  • Failing to appropriately monitor and treat the ureter injury to the plaintiff post-operatively
Specific Counts Pled
  • Medical Malpractice
Plaintiff's Experts and Areas of Specialty Getting a Lawyer for Your Malpractice Claim

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