Removal of cancer-free testicle prompts lawsuit

January 16, 2015

While it is often difficult to defend a case involving the removal of an organ for cancer that is then determined to be cancer free, the added claim of lack of informed consent for the procedure does not aid the defense in these lawsuits.

Dawn Collins, JDA Florida man underwent a testicular examination in 2011, performed by his urologist. An ultrasound was also done and a mass was found on the right testicle. The physician gave the patient two treatment options: an orchiectomy of the right testicle or an intra-operative frozen section biopsy of the mass followed by orchiectomy if the results were positive for cancer. A right orchiectomy was performed the next month and the pathologic analysis revealed no cancer.  

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The patient sued the urologist, claiming that he told the physician he wanted the second option with the possibility of saving the testicle. He alleged negligence in the failure to obtain informed consent and in failing to perform a biopsy before removing the testicle. A $450,000 verdict was returned.

LEGAL PERSPECTIVE: While it is often difficult to defend a case involving the removal of an organ for cancer that is then determined to be cancer free, the added claim of lack of informed consent for the procedure does not aid the defense in these lawsuits. A lack-of-informed-consent claim is often supported by a lack of documentation about the risk/benefit discussion with the patient. This discussion needs to be documented in the medical record and should include the options for treatment given to the patient, as well as the patient’s final decision on a course of therapy.

Next: Hemorrhage following TURP

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Hemorrhage following TURP

A 68-year-old man underwent a transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) procedure in 2011. The operation was performed by a urologist in an Ohio hospital. The patient suffered postoperative bleeding and died within the week.

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A lawsuit was filed on behalf of his estate and claimed that the autopsy confirmed the cause of death was excessive bleeding. The suit alleged negligence in performing the TURP, which it claimed was the wrong procedure, and that due to the large size of the prostate an open procedure should have been performed, which would have avoided the bleeding and resulting death. The plaintiff also claimed that the patient was not properly monitored after the operation and that the hemorrhage was not recognized in a timely fashion and not treated appropriately.

The urologist claimed that the procedure was the proper operation and that it was properly performed. He also maintained that bleeding is a known complication of the procedure and was properly treated. He alleged he had no further responsibility for the patient’s care after he was transferred to the intensive care unit. A defense verdict was returned.

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