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Kaiser Accused of Doing Unnecessary Procedures

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - A woman went into a surgery knowing she was having a total abdominal hysterectomy performed, but was not prepared when she was informed afterward that a Kaiser doctor had also removed her ovaries, she claims in court.

Kathryn Morgan had Leiomyosarcoma of the uterus, a rare malignant tumor that grows in the smooth muscle lining of the uterine walls. Dr. Fabio Cappuccini at Kaiser Sunnyside Hospital in Portland performed the surgery on March 15, 2011. Morgan claims Cappuccini discussed the risks and benefits of a total hysterectomy, but did not discuss the need to remove her ovaries or that he also would be performing a periaortic lymphadenectomy, a procedure removing a group of lymph nodes in front of the lumbar vertebrae, near the aorta.

"Dr. Cappuccini advised plaintiff that the surgery of choice for Leiomyosarcoma of the uterus was total abdominal hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo oopherectomy, omentectomy, bilateral pelvic lymphadenectomy," the complaint states. "He did not advise the plaintiff that removal of the ovaries was optional and did not discuss the potential benefits and risks of removing the ovaries as part of the surgical procedure. Dr. Cappuccini did not advise plaintiff of the risks and benefits of removing the pelvic lymph nodes during the procedure and did not advise her that this procedure was optional, likely had no significant benefit in terms of long-term prognosis and was associated with significant potential complications, such as the development of ascites."

Ascites is the accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity, or the space between membranes that separate organs from the abdominal wall.

Removal of the ovaries and lymph nodes caused Morgan to suffer additional physical and emotional trauma, she claims, including more medical procedures and even a broken nose.

"As a result of defendants' negligence, plaintiff developed ascites, requiring multiple hospital visits, paracentesis procedures, placement of a drain for several months and TPN feeding for several months," the complaint states. "Plaintiff further developed a pulmonary embolism, requiring anticoagulation therapy for several months as a consequence of immobility during hospital admissions to address the ascites."

In addition, Morgan fell and broke her nose after an episode of light-headedness caused by the ascites treatment, requiring rhinoplasty. But the consequences do not stop there, she claims.

"Plaintiff also has experienced early menopause as a consequence of removal of her ovaries and is at increased risk for coronary artery disease, hip fracture and stroke in the future," the complaint states. "Plaintiff also suffered depression and mental anguish as a result of the ascites and its consequences and treatment."

Morgan says she has incurred insurance co-pay costs and lost wages totaling $8,000. Her chief claims, however, center on a failure to obtain informed consent prior to the surgery, negligence, loss of consortium and battery.

"Plaintiff would not have consented to the performance of the surgery as to the pelvic lymph node removal and bilateral salpingo oopherectomy had she been made aware of the risks and benefits referenced," the complaint states.

She is suing for non-economic damages in the amount of $950,000.

Jane Clark, of Vancouver, Wash., represents the plaintiff.

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