There is a shocking account out of New York of alleged malpractice where doctors at the New York Downtown Hospital are accused of starting a C-section on a woman only to discover that she was not pregnant. While the incident has been denied, witnesses confirmed the mistaken C-section surgery in sworn depositions.
The allegations surfaced in litigation in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed in 2008 by former NYDH doctor, Suarna Mehulic.
Dr. Lana Boter answered affirmatively when asked whether there was “a C-section was performed on a patient at the hospital who was not pregnant?”
The patient in the 2007 incident was reportedly 16 years old. Dr. Anca Rosca also confirmed the procedure. She said that she did a sonogram but handed it over to an attending physician. She refuted the characterization of a botched C-section with a distinction that would likely not move a jury: “Nobody cut into the uterus to do a C-section. That’s what a cesarean section is, to cut into the uterus.” Yet, she confirmed that a surgery was performed on the girl.
The hospital may be making the same precious distinction when warning “no C-section has ever been performed in our hospital on a woman who was not pregnant, and if you were to suggest otherwise it would be an egregious and inflammatory error.”
The hospital however is not very credible in some quarters. Last year it had to pay $13.4 million in settlements for fraud claims from 2002 to 2006.
What I find interesting is the absence of any reference to a lawsuit or settlement with the girl. If a surgery was performed, I would be interested in understanding what the girl was told after it was discovered that she was not pregnant. As discussed in Mohr v. Williams, 104 N.W. 12 (Minn. 1905), even successful surgeries can be battery without knowing consent. If she did sign a waiver covering the procedure, there remains the question of gross negligence. Was she fully informed after the surgery of the alleged mistake?