On November 1, 2023, Mamie Stathatos-Fulgieri secured a defense verdict in a medical malpractice action tried before Justice Leonard Livote in Supreme Court, Queens County.
The plaintiff alleged that her obstetrician/gynecologist (“ob/gyn”), our client, improperly treated her abnormal uterine bleeding and performed a vaginal hysterectomy and salpingo oophorectomy that was not indicated. The plaintiff denied understanding the nature and extent of the procedure and, despite executing a consent form, claimed that she was not aware of the risks associated with the procedure. The hysterectomy resulted in an injury to the bowel, in light of plaintiff’s undiagnosed endometriosis and extensive pelvic adhesions, requiring a laparotomy and surgical repair. This left plaintiff with an ileostomy and colostomy bag for several months, followed by a reversal of the ileostomy and recovery period, which occurred without complication.
The defense was predicated on the fact that apart from abnormal uterine bleeding, the plaintiff did not present with any other complaints that would suggest endometriosis. The vaginal hysterectomy was not only indicated, but the least invasive approach to stop the plaintiff’s abnormal uterine bleeding. Moreover, the plaintiff consented to the procedure with a family member present to translate due to the plaintiff’s limited ability to understand English. A professional translating service was also utilized at the hospital to properly communicate the nature and risks of the procedure. The known risks, including injury to bowel, were delineated on the consent form, and discussed with the plaintiff prior to the hysterectomy. The defense was supported by testimony of an expert ob/gyn who explained that the decision to forego medical management and opt for definitive treatment vis-à-vis a hysterectomy was made by the plaintiff, in conjunction with her doctor, and that the risk of injury to the bowel was a well known and documented one.
Several potential appellate issues were raised during the trial, and Megan Lawless, Esq. argued same before Judge Livote. Both the medical malpractice and lack of informed consent claims were sent to the jury for deliberation. The jury accepted the defense’s position and found no departures from the standard of care and no deviation regarding lack of informed consent.