A Dane County jury awarded an Oregon couple $435,000 in a malpractice case this spring after finding their doctor “failed to disclose” information about a surgical procedure that resulted in injuries after the woman gave birth.
A state cap will reduce the award amount to $300,000. The finding was for her pain, lost wages, past health care and her husband’s loss of consortium.
Matthew and Melanie Dart sued UnityPoint Health-Meriter in May for medical malpractice, claiming negligence by doctor Jay Lick resulted in the need for a hysterectomy, or the removal of Melanie’s uterus.
That came after a first-year medical resident performed a dilation and curettage procedure that caused a puncture in Melanie’s uterus, despite Melanie explicitly stating twice she did not consent to medical students or residents operating on her, according to the complaint filed with the Dane County Circuit Court.
According to the complaint, despite Melanie’s health record demonstrating risks of her uterus being “fragile” postpartum, the procedure was performed without an ultrasound or guidance to avoid the risk of puncture.
The circuit court jury found Lick guilty of failing to disclose information about the risks and the guided ultrasound and/or hysterectomy. The finding states the jury determined “if a reasonable person, placed in Melanie Dart’s position, had been informed” they would have accepted the guided ultrasound treatment and that the failure of Lick to educate Melanie was “cause of injury."
As a result of Melanie’s uterus being punctured, the jury agreed, she developed Asherman’s syndrome later underwent a hysterectomy in April 2015, according to the complaint.
While the jury found Lick guilty of failing to disclose the information necessary for the Darts to make an informed decision, they didn’t find him guilty of being “negligent with regard to his care and treatment of Melanie,” nor fellow doctor Kim Mackey, according to the report. Mackey had been accused of failing to ensure Melanie’s uterine cavity was cleared and empty of placental tissue, according to the complaint.
The complaint states Melanie was admitted to Meriter due to contractions on May 31, 2013. She was “assessed as having gone into preterm labor” and scheduled to have a caesarean section the following day.
She suffered abdominal pain and bleeding, and during one visit in June, she had been accused of seeking narcotic medication, according to the complaint. On Aug. 9, 2013, a biopsy confirmed the symptoms were “a result of retained placental tissue” in her uterus.
Melanie then received a dilation procedure after she and her husband had both informed the staff “she did not consent to medical students or residents actively participating in the procedure,” the complaint states. It also states Lick arrived late, and Melanie, during a brief exchange before operating again, informed him she did not consent to students or residents participating.
“Regardless, a first year medical resident, Dr. Janessa Lawhorn, appears to have performed the (procedure),” the complaint states.
The summary states Lick and Lawhorn both failed to note or discover they had punctured Melanie’s uterus.
Her symptoms continued and intensified until November 2013, when another ultrasound and a “hysteroscope” to visualize the interior of her uterus performed by doctor Gregory Bills failed to note and diagnose the perforation, the complaint states.
Later that month, she passed a “golf-ball sized” clot, resumed bleeding and “suffered from nausea and sweats,” before a laparoscopic procedure to repair the hole in her uterus revealed her fallopian tube was embedded in the hole.
Because of the puncture to her uterus and other complications, Melanie ultimately developed adhesions to her uterus and bowel and underwent several corrective surgeries eventually a hysterectomy, the complaint states.