After what was supposed to be a routine gynecological procedure, a California woman realized it would wind up being anything but. Michelle Doig-Collins visited her OB/GYN in April 2016 for a uterine ablation and tubal ligation; the mother of three had been experiencing prolonged bleeding during her menstrual cycle, which left her in a great deal of pain, and had chosen the tubal ligation at the same time to prevent any future pregnancies. Both of these procedures are standard and rarely cause patients any complications post-op. However, this was not the case for Doig-Collins. After enduring months of agonizing pain following her operation, which she described as being much more intense than the pain she had experienced prior to her surgery, she discovered a “huge” metal protrusion in her groin in July as she sat down to use the restroom. She is now suing The Surgery Center at Saddleback in California after doctors allegedly left the surgical probe inside of her body upon completing the procedure.
Doig-Collins had been complaining of immense pain immediately following her ablation and ligation and after having returned to her doctor three separate times with complaints of heavy bleeding and tremendous pain, she was prescribed several rounds of antibiotics. She received a pelvic examination and rather than discovering and/or identifying the offending foreign object in her body as the source of her symptoms, she was given a diagnosis of severe vaginal infection. She agreed to take the antibiotics, despite never having had this type of infection before. Still, she claimed she constantly felt “nauseous,” and had “heavy cramping, heavy pain.”
It wasn’t until July 3, 2016, when she collapsed on the floor of her bathroom after realizing her “toilet paper got caught on a metal probe” that she knew something was seriously wrong. Her husband immediately took her to the Emergency Room where an X-ray showed she did, indeed, have a large medical instrument stuck in her vagina. Understandably distressed, she expressed her anger over the fact that the apparatus had been inside of her body for 11 weeks and not only did medical professionals not notice it, they did not seem to even consider the possibility her pain might be the result of their error.
Doig-Collins is being represented by Jeff Greenman, who is a noted medical malpractice expert. When speaking to the press about his client he said, “How did no one see this? She very well could have died. She could have got sepsis or some other horrible infection that didn’t go away.” Greenman is currently investigating why the object was left behind at all, and why no one discovered it upon further medical examinations of his client. The Surgery Center at Saddleback and the Orange Coast Women’s Medical Group, who employs Doig-Collins’ surgeon, have declined to comment on the matter.
It is estimated around 4,000 patients in America are left with some sort of surgical object in their body after undergoing operations per year. This is a frighteningly high number, considering people are putting their ultimate trust in the assumed-expert hands of doctors every day in the hopes of being cured, not killed. It is alarming to think surgeons and their trained staff could be so distracted during a procedure, whether routine or major, they simply overlook or forget they’ve left a potentially deadly tool inside of someone.
Even more frustrating is the apparent lack of acknowledgement of any mistakes made on their part. Doctors are just as accountable as the rest of us, but are strictly held to a higher standard, which is fair considering they chose their given profession; they chose to take an oath to ensure the safety and well-being of every patient they encounter, no matter if it’s to treat a cold or transplant a vital organ. If we can’t trust our own doctors to have our best health interests at heart, who can we trust?