Type of action: Medical malpractice
Injuries alleged: Permanent dental injuries and mild
traumatic brain injury following fall from table
Court: Virginia Beach Circuit Court
Tried before: Jury
Name of judge or mediator: Judge James C. Lewis
Date resolved: 9/23/2021
Verdict or settlement: Verdict
Amount: $0 (defense)
Attorneys for defendant (and city): Rodney S. Dillman
and Julie C. Mayer, Virginia Beach
Description of case: This lawsuit was brought by the plaintiff following a single visit with the defendant obstetrician-gynecologist on Nov. 14, 2018. Plaintiff was a healthy 27-year-old former collegiate athlete who presented for a well-woman examination and removal of an intrauterine device (IUD). The defendant conducted the well-woman examination and removed the IUD. Documentation in the records, as well as the testimony of both parties, was that the plaintiff found the IUD removal to be very painful. It was noted that the plaintiff tolerated the removal poorly. The defendant undertook a brief pelvic examination of the plaintiff, and the visit ended with the defendant asking the plaintiff whether she had any questions. When the plaintiff had no questions, the defendant let the plaintiff know that she could get up from the examination table and dress herself whenever she was ready, and the defendant left the room.
When the plaintiff sat up on the table, she began to feel dizzy. She suffered a vasovagal reaction. The plaintiff lost consciousness and fell off of the exam table. The plaintiff landed face first on the examination room floor. Hearing a loud “thud,” office staff members went into the room and discovered the plaintiff on the floor in a pool of blood from her injuries. The plaintiff’s significant injuries included multiple broken teeth, a lacerated lip and what was later confirmed by her treating neurologist to be a traumatic brain injury. She required extensive dental treatment and endodontic treatment, and will continue to require restorative dental therapy for the rest of her life. Testimony at trial included that her traumatic brain injury will be permanent.
Plaintiff’s expert witnesses alleged that the standard of care required the defendant to perform a more detailed assessment of the plaintiff and sit her up before leaving the room because the plaintiff described the procedure as painful. Plaintiff alleges that had the defendant sat up the plaintiff, the vasovagal episode would have been detected and the fall would not have occurred. The defendant proved that the defendant’s removal of the IUD and post-removal examination and assessment were reasonable and the standard of care did not require the defendant to sit up the plaintiff before leaving the room. The plaintiff’s fall was an unforeseeable accident, and not the result of any negligence.
The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant after a four-day trial and jury deliberations of approximately 90 minutes.