Have a Story to Tell? Had a medical error?

This blog is about patient safety, medical malpractice, staying healthy, and preventing future errors. Help & empower someone else, Teach a lesson, Bear witness, Build our community - Email us or call 781-444-5525.

Frustrated with a health problem?

Need an ally in your health crisis? Call 781-444-5525, or learn more.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I’ve been robbed since I was 49: Malpractice - surgical error

An operation nearly two decades ago left her incontinent and in pain, shuffling from one medical appointment to the next in search of a way to repair a hole in her bladder. She says several subsequent surgeries and procedures failed to correct the problem.

For the past 17 years, Frances Borrow has lived with a plastic bag constantly strapped to her stomach that collects her urine, the legacy of a 1990 hysterectomy during which her bladder was accidentally sliced. "I've been robbed since I was 49 years old. From then on, it's been a nightmare. I was a very outgoing, happy person. It was like my whole world turned around. Nobody should have to live that way."

Frances is one of more than three dozen women who now say they suffered lasting physical and emotional injuries after surgery by a Scarborough obstetrician and gynecologist.

They all wonder if they could have avoided years of hardship had they known about his surgical complication rate, a string of malpractice suits against him and a pattern of patient complaints.

The documents, filed as part of a $500,000 lawsuit by one former patient in 2003, show that surgeon had complication rates for total abdominal hysterectomies (the surgical removal of the uterus by an incision in the abdominal wall rather than the vagina) of 30% in 2000, 30% in 2001, 9% in 2002 and 10% in 2003.

A 1992 Ohio study of 160,000 hysterectomies found a complication rate of 9% was the average for that operation.

The Ontario provincial government announced this week it will require hospitals to report unexpected death rates and infection rates alongside the wait times posted on a government website for procedures in five key areas, to be posted by Spring, 2008.

The government will not, however, publish the complication rates of individual surgeons.

Advice to patients about to undergo surgery: Find out the surgeon’s complication rate first.

Read another of our surgical error stories, or read the source story by Robert Cribb and Tanya Talaga on medical secrecy.

No comments: