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Kidney Stones from Stapler Misuse Lawsuit in Maryland Suit

Effler v. General Surgeon

SurgeryThis is a medical malpractice lawsuit brought woman alleging a surgical error. The defendant is a physician specializing in general surgery based in Baltimore.

This claim was filed in the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office on January 8th, 2018. This is the eighth medical malpractice suit filed in the state of Maryland in 2018.

This lawsuit has to do with a complication arising from surgery to manage an infected cyst. A surgeon misused a medical device in closing a patient's bladder after the surgery. This led to non-life-threatening but nevertheless serious health complications.

Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations

In February 2014, the plaintiff is admitted to a local hospital's emergency room and diagnosed with an infected urachal cyst.

The next day, she undergoes surgery to explore and resect the infected cyst as well as a portion of her bladder. The plaintiff's surgeon closes the bladder with an Echelon surgical stapler that uses titanium medical staples. He also uses a permanent suture (a seam that isn't absorbed by the body the way normal stitches are) to bury the metal staple line. In January 2016, the plaintiff passes a kidney stone and becomes aware of the permanent suture and titanium staples for the first time.

The plaintiff's urologist then determines that she has developed multiple kidney stone calcifications at the site of the suture and staples. The plaintiff believes these calcifications are a recurring condition that will require invasive surgery to correct.

Case Analysis
  • The Echelon surgical stapler referred to in the lawsuit is a relatively new medical device developed by Ethicon in 2009. It's used to cut and staple tissue in a variety of surgical procedures, including bariatric, thoracic, colorectal, gynecologic, urologic and general surgery. Ethicon was successfully sued by a female patient in 2015 after a different stapler device malfunctioned during bowel surgery. The patient recovered $10 million in damages. Ethicon is not named as a defendant in this matter, however.

  • Kidney stones are a fairly common condition, appearing in nearly 13 percent of men and 7 percent of women. Once you've developed kidney stones, the likelihood that they'll return is even greater. Kidney stones usually require hospitalization and can cause kidney damage in some instances. The unusual element of this lawsuit is the claim that a doctor's negligence caused kidney stones to develop. Typically, kidney stones develop due to diet or other lifestyle factors.

  • The patient's husband is named as a plaintiff in the suit under a loss of consortium claim. The complaint alleges the plaintiff's condition had a direct impact on her marriage.

  • The defendant was named as a Top Doc by Baltimore Magazine in 2017.

Plaintiff's Expert Witnesses

Plaintiff's certifying expert is Dr. Scott Hockenberry. Dr. Hockenberry's practice is based in Columbus, Ohio and he is a surgeon specializing in general surgery, vascular surgery and trauma surgery.

In his report, Dr. Hockenberry states that the Echelon stapler and titanium staples are not indicated for this procedure. Specifically, he maintains that the device isn't cleared by the FDA for use on the bladder.

He also argues that absorbable non-permanent sutures should have been placed in accordance with the standard of care. He concludes his report by alleging that the defendant's negligence was the direct cause for the plaintiff's kidney stone calcifications.

Alleged Negligence
  • The defendant was negligent in using a permanent suture and unapproved metal stapler to seal the plaintiff's bladder during surgery. The plaintiff alleges that these treatments aren't indicated for the bladder because they can cause kidney stone calcifications to develop.

  • The defendant should have known of the risk of kidney stones that come with this treatment and failed to inform the plaintiff of the associated risk.

  • The plaintiff believes the kidney stones are a recurring condition due to this negligence and that she will require surgery to remove the titanium staples.

  • This case is being defended by Ron Shaw at Shaw, Morrow & Joseph, P.A in Hunt Valley.  He filed a motion to move the venue of the claim out of Baltimore City.   


A general and vascular surgeon in Baltimore


Baltimore City

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