On March 27, 2019, a Vermilion, Illinois medical malpractice jury awarded the estate of a woman who suffered serious urological injuries during abdominal surgery more than $4.8 million in an Illinois medical malpractice case filed against the surgeon. The Illinois medical malpractice jury awarded $4,844,391 to the woman’s estate and her family for her medical expenses and noneconomic damages (pain and suffering, loss of normal life expectancy, and emotional distress).
The trial lasted eight days after which the jury deliberated for less than three hours before rendering its verdict. The Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit was originally filed in November 2010.
The plaintiff’s complaint filed against the surgeon and the medical practice where he was employed alleged that while the defendant surgeon was performing surgery on the woman to remove an abdominal cyst, he negligently cut the woman’s right ureter, twice, and removed a portion of her ureter. As a result, the woman suffered a severe and permanent injury that subsequently resulted in the loss of her right kidney. The woman suffered continuously from the date of the avoidable injury until she died six and a half years later.
Ureteral injuries are a potential complication of any open or endoscopic pelvic operation. Most ureteral injuries (80 to 90 percent) occur in the part of the ureter in the pelvis, the segment of ureter closest to the bladder. The common types of pelvic ureteral injuries caused by surgery, in descending order of frequency, are ligation, kinking by suture, division, partial laceration, crush and loss of blood supply (leading to delayed death of tissue and narrowing of the ureter). The most reliable way for surgeons to avoid ureteral injury is to clearly identify the ureter throughout the region of the body that will undergo the surgery.
Gynecologic surgery accounts for more than 50 percent of all ureteral injuries resulting from surgery, with the remaining occurring during colorectal, general, vascular and urologic surgery. The ureter is injured in roughly 0.5 to 2 percent of all hysterectomies and routine gynecologic pelvic operations and in 10 percent (range, 5 to 30 percent) of radical hysterectomies. The majority of reported ureteral injuries have occurred in patients with no identifiable risk factors: more than 75 percent of ureteral injuries due to gynecologic surgeries occur during procedures that surgeons describe as uncomplicated and routine and where pelvic anatomy is normal.
The ureter is especially susceptible to injury during vascular, gynecologic, urologic, and colonic operations. The following procedures contribute to iatrogenic ureteral injuries: hysterectomy (54%), colorectal surgery (14%), pelvic procedures such as ovarian tumor removal (8%), transabdominal urethropexy (8%), and abdominal vascular surgery (6%). The total incidence of ureteral injury after gynecologic surgery is reported to be 0.5% to 1.5%, and after abdominoperineal colon resection, it ranges from 0.3% to 5.7%. The reported rate of ureteral injury varies between 0.5% (experienced surgeons) and 14% (inexperienced surgeons) after laparoscopic hysterectomy. Laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy is the most common cause of iatrogenic ureteric injury worldwide. However, in developing countries, open gynecological surgeries still remain the most common cause.
If you or a loved one suffered serious harm (or worse) in Illinois or in another U.S. state during surgery that may be due to medical malpractice, you should promptly find an Illinois medical malpractice lawyer, or a medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state, who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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