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When a patient, a physician herself, underwent hysterectomy, her doctor told her that the recovery time would be short, about a week. Not so. Four months and three surgeries later as well as thousands of dollars in medical bills and lost wages, she is still recovering. She was told that she suffered a complication, something that can occur despite the best of care. About a week after surgery, she experienced severe pain and accumulation of urine in her abdomen and the doctor explained that he must have nicked the ureter, the tube that carriers the urine to the bladder, during the surgery. A nephrostomy tube was placed to drain the urine and she had surgery to place a stent in the injured ureter. Subsequently she had surgery to repair the ureter.

All of her relatives suggested that she sue the doctor so she consulted a malpractice attorney who refused to take the case. A different lawyer told her that it would be a very difficult case to win, because it would be tough to show the injury was the result of the doctor’s negligence. The complication that caused all these problems, the nicking of a ureter, would most likely be considered a regular complication of the surgery, and not negligence. This means that even though she suffered, she wouldn’t have a case. "Just because you have a bad outcome doesn’t mean you can sue," she was told. Although only a medical expert can determine if there was a departure from accepted standards of care, attorneys are reluctant to undertake medical malpractice cases which may well fall into the category of complications that can occur absent negligence.

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