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Pelvic Floor Reconstruction Complications


A patient sought care from a surgeon for ongoing stomach pain and incontinence. The surgeon diagnosed the patient with a fallen bladder. The surgeon performed pelvic floor reconstruction.

 

The patient continued to experience incontinence and pain after the surgery. The patient also experienced new pelvic pain after the surgery. The surgeon reassured the patient that everything was fine. The patient continued to see the surgeon for the symptoms for a year after the surgery. After that point, the surgeon stopped practicing in the patient’s geographic area.

 

Three years after the first surgery, the patient underwent a surgery performed by a different surgeon. During surgery, the second surgeon found that the patient’s bladder was above the ovary, the bladder was loose, and vaginal scar tissue required removal. The second surgeon found that the first surgeon has used metal staples and left a net inside of the patient that was causing bloody discharge. The second surgeon told the patient that the first surgeon had done a bad job during the initial pelvic floor reconstruction.

 

The patient sued the first surgeon for medical malpractice four years after the first surgery.

 

The surgeon moved for summary judgment arguing that the patient’s claim was time-barred under the two-year statute of limitations.

 

The Meade District Court granted the surgeon’s motion for summary judgment. The trial court found that the patient’s injury was ascertainable well before the earliest date of the two-year statute of limitations. The trial court held that patient’s ongoing symptoms and new pain immediately after the surgery triggered a duty to investigate and that the patient did not investigate properly.

 

The Court of Appeals of Kansas reversed. The court held that the trial court erred in granting the surgeon’s motion for summary judgment because there was a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether the patient’s injury was reasonably ascertainable before the patient underwent the second surgery.

 

The trial court erred in granting the surgeon’s motion for summary judgment because there was a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether the patient’s injury was reasonably ascertainable before the patient underwent the second surgery. The court explained that, because the surgeon had moved for summary judgment, the burden was on the surgeon to show that no disputed facts existed as to when the patient’s injury became reasonably ascertainable. The court found the record showed that the patient and the surgeon disputed when the patient’s injury became reasonably ascertainable. Specifically, uncontroverted facts did not support the trial court’s findings that the patient believed something was wrong immediately after the first surgery or that the patient believed the new pain after the first surgery was caused by the operation. The court reasoned that the trial court’s ruling that the patient failed to adequately investigate relied on the trial court’s erroneous findings of fact. The court concluded that the trial court improperly construed the disputed evidence as to when the patient’s injury became reasonably ascertainable in favor of the surgeon, which was not permitted under a motion for summary judgment. Additionally, the court noted that when evidence is in dispute as to when substantial injury first appears or when it becomes reasonably ascertainable, that issue is generally to be determined by the trier of fact.

 

The Court of Appeals of Kansas reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the surgeon.

 

See: Velaquez v. Leidich, 2018 WL 6005241 (Kan.App., November 16, 2018) (not designated for publication).

 

See also Medical Risk Law Report: Urological Disorders and Urinary Dysfunction: Litigation Caution Signs

 

See also Medical Risk Law Report: Gut-Wrenching Pain: Liability Risks Related to Gastrointestinal Disorders

 

 

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