|Ms. Collins is an attorney specializing in medical malpractice in Long Beach, CA. She welcomes your feedback on this column at [email protected].|
A 63-year-old Pennsylvania woman went to the emergency room in 2010 due to nausea and vomiting. An abdominal/pelvic computed tomography scan revealed a constricting lesion in the sigmoid colon, possibly indicative of malignancy or diverticulitis.
A surgeon was consulted and the patient underwent an open sigmoid resection, decompression of the colon, and colostomy. She was discharged after about a week, and was seen within the next month by a nurse for ostomy-related in-home care.
The following month, the patient returned to the hospital with complaints of abdominal pain for 4 days after she had moved some heavy luggage. A CT scan revealed a large parastomal hernia, but no evidence of obstruction.
Eleven days later, she was seen by her surgeon, who noted a mild hernia next to the colostomy. The patient was given information regarding colostomy reversal and 6 days later she underwent this procedure, including a repair of the hernia. Postoperatively, the patient was diagnosed with a ureter injury that required a cystoscopy and ureteroscopy with placement of a nephrostomy tube. A few months later, a ureterolysis and ureteral reimplantation were performed.
The woman sued the surgeon and claimed that actions should have been taken to protect the ureter due to her prior surgeries, including placement of a stent prior to surgery by a urologist.
The physician argued that injury to the ureter is a known complication of the procedure and the patient was informed of this prior to the operation. A defense verdict was returned.
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