When a patient is a victim of a hysterectomy gone wrong, personal injury lawyers can help the patient recover damages for the surgery. The attorney-client relationship can be an important way to recover as many damages as possible. To better understand this type of medical malpractice, it is vital to understand what hysterectomy is.
What Is a Hysterectomy?
This type of surgery is used to remove a woman’s uterus. This medical procedure is most often performed when a woman is having severe health problems related to the uterus. Unless there is cancer in the uterus, this type of surgery is generally only used as a last resort.
- Uterine prolapse: This happens when the uterus slides down into the vaginal canal.
- Chronic pain: Sometimes, this type of surgery is done when a woman has chronic pain in the pelvic area that is not relieved by other treatments.
- Cancer: If the uterus, ovaries, or cervix have cancer in them, the doctor may recommend that the uterus is removed through this surgery.
- Uterine fibroids: Some types of fibroids in the uterus can cause excessive bleeding and pain, and removal of the uterus may be the best option.
- Other problems: There are a few other problems that may also lead to the doctor recommending that the uterus is removed. These problems include endometriosis, abnormal bleeding, and adenomyosis, which is when the uterus thickens.
Hysterectomy Procedure Types
There are a few ways that the uterus may be removed. The type of procedure used depends on the specific medical problems that the woman has been experiencing. With some, the ovaries and cervix are removed, and with other procedures, these organs stay intact.
- Radical: In this procedure, the surgeon will remove the entire uterus, the tissue around the uterus, and cervix, as well as the top part of the patient’s vagina. Usually, this type of procedure is only done when the patient has cancer in these areas.
- Total: In this type of surgery, the surgeon will remove only the uterus and the cervix.
- Supracervical or subtotal: In this type of procedure, the doctors will only remove the upper part of the uterus. They will leave the cervix in place.
Sometimes, the ovaries and fallopian tubes are also removed.
Surgical Procedures to Remove Uterus
Depending on the woman’s medical history, the experience of the surgeon, and why the hysterectomy is being done, the doctor can choose from a few types of surgeries. The amount of time to heal after the surgery will depend on the chosen method. The two main types of methods are traditional surgeries and minimally invasive techniques.
This is the most common type of surgery to remove the uterus and other reproductive organs. The surgeon will make an incision that is about five to seven inches long across the belly. The surgeon will carefully cut away the uterus and any other organ to be removed through this incision. The surgeon will then sew the incision, and the patient will spend a few days in the hospital to recover.
Minimally Invasive Techniques
There are several techniques that the surgeon may employ to remove the uterus without making a large incision in the belly.
- Laparoscopic-assisted vaginal hysterectomy: With the use of cameras and tiny tools, the surgeon can remove the organs by making only a few small cuts near the area.
- Vaginal hysterectomy: The surgeon will make a cut in the vagina and remove the uterus and other organs through this cut.
- Laparoscopically: By using a tube with a tiny camera attached to the end, the surgeon can make some cuts near the belly button. This laparoscopic hysterectomy will be viewed on a video screen for accuracy.
Regardless of the technique used, this type of surgery can help the patient heal faster, experience less pain, and stay in the hospital for a shorter amount of time. Because the incisions are smaller than with traditional surgery, a woman has a lower risk of infection after this type of surgery.
Problems From Hysterectomy Surgeries
A normal hysterectomy can have some side effects, and it is normal for the recovery to take several weeks. Some problems that a patient usually is at risk for after this surgery include blood clots, infection at the site of the surgery, excessive bleeding, and an adverse reaction to the anesthesia. These side effects of the surgery can happen even if the doctors and surgeons did their jobs perfectly because each patient’s body is different.
However, after a botched hysterectomy, patients may experience more problems than are reasonable. They include:
- Vaginal vault granulation
- Bladder injury
- Perforation to the bowel or the small intestine
- Damage to the ureter, which carries the urine
There are several reasons the doctor or surgeon may cause these types of injuries during a hysterectomy surgery. If there is medical negligence – meaning the surgeon does not practice care to avoid the risks, the surgeon is liable for this personal injury. There may also be medical malpractice involved if the health care providers did not get the patient’s permission before performing this irreversible surgery.
Even if the patient suffers from common complications from this surgery, such as blood clots or infection, personal injury attorneys may decide that the medical facility may still be guilty of malpractice because its management failed to properly inform the patient of the risks associated with the surgery.
Legally, a doctor is allowed to perform a hysterectomy without the patient’s consent if it is a life-threatening situation. For example, there may be uncontrollable bleeding after giving birth. However, because a hysterectomy is a permanent operation that leaves the woman unable to have more children, the doctor is expected to have exhausted all of his or her other options before doing this.
Before performing this operation, a doctor needs to follow steps to stop the bleeding, such as massaging the uterus and using medications. It can be challenging to determine whether or not this permanent operation was necessary, so speaking with a medical malpractice attorney can help individuals determine if they have a case.
Filing a Malpractice Claim
It can be challenging to file a malpractice claim. There is generally a short statute of limitations to start the case, depending on the state’s laws. Patients will need to have a medical professional who will testify that the doctor was negligent in their standard of care.
Even though hysterectomies are relatively common surgeries, it is still possible for the doctors and surgeons to make mistakes. When this happens, the injured party may be eligible to receive damages.
Talking to medical malpractice lawyers at a reputable law firm is the best way for patients to file a medical malpractice claim that will help them get their medical expenses back. A free consultation will help patients determine the amount of damages they are eligible to receive.