FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 10, 2018
Contact:Eric W. Boyer, Esq.
305.670.1101 Ext. 1023
QPWB ATTORNEYS DEFEND PHYSICIAN IN ROBOT SURGERY
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CLAIM
Medical Malpractice Defense / Negligence
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. ― Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., partners Robert J. Cousins and Scott C Sankey achieved a defense verdict in the trial of a medical malpractice claim alleging improper use of robotic surgery for uterine fibroids.
The plaintiff, a 42 year old female, had been attempting to become pregnant for more than a decade. She underwent three previous surgeries and consulted with infertility physicians. Repeated testing revealed the plaintiff had uterine fibroids, endometriosis and adhesive disease. Prior surgeries resulted in removal of her left ovary and uterine fibroids. The fibroids later returned. Due to her distorted anatomy following the second surgery, the plaintiff was advised to have a total abdominal hysterectomy, to which she initially agreed, but then changed her mind.
Several years elapsed when the plaintiff again wanted to attempt In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to become pregnant. The fertility physician and prior surgeons agreed that the she had no chance of becoming pregnant naturally and that even with IVF, her chance of conceiving was only 5%. However, the fertility physician advised her that surgery to address the fibroids was necessary before he would even attempt IVF. The fertility physician referred the patient to the defendant, a gynecologic oncologist, the firm’s client.
In addition to training as a gynecologist, a Gynecologic Oncologist has additional surgical training for difficult and complex pelvic surgeries because bowel, ureters and bladder tissue are often impacted by the presence of cancer in the pelvis. The defendant obtained the surgical history and recommended that the best possible approach to remove the fibroids would be through using a minimally invasive robotic procedure. Each of the plaintiff’s three prior surgeries had been done via an open method, before the advent and use of robotic surgery.
During the procedure while taking down extensive adhesions the doctor noticed a thermal communication with a segment of small bowel and also noted a small area of injury to the large bowel. These areas were tagged and the affected areas were removed by creation of an anastomosis and performed an over sewing of the area involving the large bowel. Efforts to successfully gain access to the uterus to remove the fibroids were unsuccessful because of the extensive endometriosis and adhesions that were present.
Following the procedure the plaintiff initially demonstrated the progress but subsequent studies revealed an abscess formation eight days post-op. The plaintiff alleged that the abscess was formed because of injury to the bowel. In order to rest the bowel the plaintiff was given nutrition through a feeding tube. Plaintiff was hospitalized for 20 days.
After two months of tube feeding and attempting to address the abscess, the plaintiff sought care at a subsequent institution. Ultimately, she underwent a hysterectomy and alleged that as a result of the defendant’s negligence, she could no longer have any opportunity for In Vitro Fertilization and she could no longer have a child. Following that procedure, the plaintiff also developed a post-operative infection.
The defense experts demonstrated that robotic surgery was the best approach and that the complications which developed during the surgical procedure, including the bowel injury, were known recognized risks without regard to the surgical approach utilized. The defense demonstrated through other medical records that during other procedures, bowel injury occurred in those instances because of the extensive adhesive disease and endometriosis that was present. Through the testimony of experts and subsequent treating physicians, the defense demonstrated that the hysterectomy and ability to bear children through IVF procedures was not the result of any negligence but the result of the plaintiff’s long standing, underlying pelvic disease, including uterine fibroids, endometriosis and extensive adhesive disease.
Following an eight day trial, the jury returned a defense verdict, exonerating the doctor from any negligence.
Robert J. Cousins is the managing partner of the firm’s Fort Myers office and also practices in the Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach offices. Mr. Cousins specializes in civil trials and is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization since 1994. His experience as a trial lawyer in Florida spans over 30 years.
Scott C. Sankey is a partner in the firm’s Fort Lauderdale office. He is a trial attorney focusing in the areas of civil litigation and wrongful death defenses including medical malpractice, products liability, automotive defense, insurance coverage disputes, professional negligence and contract claims. He received his law degree from the University of Miami School of Law in 2001.
Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., is the largest minority and women owned law firm in the nation with more than 370 lawyers serving clients from 21 offices in the United States and abroad across a spectrum of industries in over 40 areas of practice. Our lawyers provide representation in litigation, business, real estate and governmental law.