Plaintiff underwent placement of a Mirena intrauterine device (IUD) at defendant OB/GYN practice in September 2006. On March 29, 2007, she presented to Shenandoah Memorial Hospital emergency department complaining of lower abdominal and pelvic pain. Work-up was negative for ectopic pregnancy but ultrasound examination together with x-ray studies revealed that the IUD had perforated the uterus and was found at the level of the L5 vertebra. Plaintiff was discharged from Shenandoah Memorial Hospital on March 30, 2007.
On April 1, 2007, plaintiff presented to Winchester Medical Center emergency department complaining of pelvic pain and vaginal spotting. Emergency Department work-up, including ultrasound imaging, revealed no IUD in the uterus and an ectopic pregnancy in the left fallopian tube. Defendant OB/GYN was called to the ED to treat plaintiff, and she performed emergency laparoscopic surgery to address the ectopic pregnancy. Dilatation and curettage of the uterus and intra-operative pelvic survey failed to reveal the IUD. Defendant OB/GYN concluded that the patient had passed the IUD without realizing it. During two subsequent office visits with defendant OB/GYN, plaintiff complained of left lower quadrant pain. Pelvic examinations and two additional ultrasound studies failed to reveal the IUD but did reveal a left ovarian cyst. Defendant OB/GYN offered diagnostic laparoscopy, to which plaintiff agreed but never underwent. Defendant OB/GYN did not order an x-ray of plaintiff’s pelvis or abdomen, nor did she request plaintiff’s medical records from Shenandoah Memorial Hospital.
In November 2010, CT imaging of plaintiff’s abdomen and pelvis revealed the IUD in plaintiff’s abdomen. The IUD was surgically removed in January 2011.
Plaintiff claimed that she suffered three and one-half years of pain and exacerbation of her depression because of the retained IUD. She asserted that the standard of care required defendant OB/GYN to have ordered an X-ray of her pelvis and abdomen and to have requested and obtained her medical records from Shenandoah Memorial Hospital. She alleged that had defendant OB/GYN done either or both of these things, her IUD would have been removed during the surgery to treat her ectopic pregnancy and she would have avoided years of pain and suffering and an additional surgery to remove the IUD. She proceeded on a theory of vicarious liability against defendant OB/GYN practice. In support of her claims, plaintiff presented the testimony of one expert OB/GYN.
Defendants presented the expert testimony of two board certified OB/GYNs who explained that the standard of care did not require defendant OB/GYN to have ordered an X-ray or to have requested the medical records at issue. Defendants also presented the expert testimony of a board certified gastroenterologist with subspecialty focus in irritable bowel syndrome. He explained that none of plaintiff’s complaints was secondary to the IUD and that all likely were due to irritable bowel syndrome and the variety of medications plaintiff was using to treat her depression and anxiety.
The case was submitted to the jury on day four of trial. The jury returned a defense verdict after approximately two and one-half hours of deliberations. As of this time, plaintiff has not filed post-trial motions or a notice of appeal.
Type of action: Medical malpractice
Injuries alleged: IUD negligently left in plaintiff’s body, pain and suffering, surgery to remove IUD
Court: Winchester Circuit Court
Tried before: Jury
Judge: John E. Wetsel Jr.
Special damages: Approximately $36,000 in medical expenses and $750 in lost wages
Verdict or settlement: Defense verdict
Date: Oct. 10, 2013
Demand: None made (plaintiff sued for $2,000,000)
Insurance carriers: The Doctors Company
Attorneys for defendant: Susan L. Mitchell and Marc A. Brown, Fairfax