Top Things to Know about Failed Diagnosis and Treatment of Uterine Fibroids
Experienced Lawyers for Victims of Fibroid Related Medical Malpractice in NJ
Have you been diagnosed with uterine fibroids? Many women have them. They come in various sizes and can range from being uncomfortable to downright painful, or nothing at all. Uterine leiomyomas, or fibroids, affect women between the ages of 15 to 50. In fact, up to 80% of women suffer fibroids by the time they reach age 50. Depending on where these noncancerous growths develop in the uterus, their scope and their size, fibroids can cause some women to seek medical help for relief. Fibroids can be surgically removed or alternatively treated to minimize their potentially painful effects. However, choosing the right solution is a complicated task, weighing the benefits and drawbacks that each treatment option provides. Ultimately, the solution is different for each woman, depending on her age, her family plans, and other health issues that may steer a physician’s treatment toward one therapeutic path over another.
If your doctor failed to inform you of all of your available choices after being diagnosed with fibroids, recommended a procedure that worsened your condition, or injured you by failing to diagnose, treat, or maintain your condition, you might feel taken advantage of, betrayed, or angry. While doctors make mistakes, some negative outcomes are preventable, and the damage they leave is inexcusable. For example, performing a fibroid removal procedure requires knowledge, the right approach, diligence, and skill. Errors during these surgeries can be costly, sometimes causing irreversible harm. When such events befall you or a loved one, there is lingering doubt as to what could have been and what should have been done. Had your uterine fibroid condition been managed properly, what taxing physical, emotional, and financial damage could have been avoided altogether?
The extensive destruction that medical malpractice leaves in its wake cannot be understated. But you may have options. Fronzuto Law Group’s team of malpractice attorneys is constantly working on behalf of injured patients seeking compensation for injuries from avoidable medical errors across New Jersey. We are here to discuss your case and further investigate the circumstances that may offer you grounds for a fibroids malpractice lawsuit. Call (973)-435-4551 to speak with a lawyer who can help you further. Consultations are provided at no cost.
Uterine Fibroids Happen to Many Women of Childbearing Age
While the causes of fibroids are generally unknown, the condition is not. Women are often first alerted to them by pelvic pain or pressure, abdominal pain, bleeding, or infertility. However, not all women with fibroids experience symptoms. Among those who do, many suffer pain and heavy bleeding during their periods. These growths can cause discomfort, such as frequent urination and rectal pressure, as well as swelling in the abdomen from large fibroids. Other symptoms include painful intercourse, lower back pain, pregnancy and labor complications, such as a breech baby, stalled labor, placental abruption, and babies born premature, with a higher likelihood of cesarean section birth. Women in their 30s or older, those with a family history of fibroids, obesity, and a diet rich in meat are more susceptible to fibroids, but genetics and hormones (specifically progesterone and estrogen) seem to be the largest indications for their development.
There are Treatment Alternatives to Surgery for Fibroids
When women with fibroids-related symptoms see their gynecologists, they may be offered non-invasive methods of controlling the symptoms first before resorting to surgery. Over-the-counter pain relievers or iron supplements for anemia can be used to treat symptoms, as can low-dose birth control pills to stop heavy bleeding. Progesterone, an IUD, or Gonadotropin injections also lessen bleeding or shrink fibroids. On the reverse side of this coin, hormonal side effects can cause insomnia, hot flashes, depression, joint pain and decreased libido, as well as thinning bones and fibroid regrowth after hormone therapy ends. If these therapeutic alternatives fail to alleviate symptoms, surgical intervention may be recommended.
Fibroid Removal Surgery has Risks and Permanent Effects
Removing the fibroids or the uterus that contains them comes with ordinary surgical risks, as well as life-changing results. Women in their childbearing years who wish to have children will not opt for hysterectomy but myomectomy, the fibroid removal that keeps the uterus intact. Common surgical methods for either myomectomy or hysterectomy include laparoscopy, hysteroscopy or abdominal entry, sometimes with hormone adjustment to shrink the fibroids before surgery. Nonetheless, treatment can be varied and initiated in stages. The location of the fibroids may affect symptoms and surgical options, depending on whether they exist within the uterus walls, in the uterine cavity, in the abdominal cavity, or are scattered in the abdominal cavity. Complications may occur with hysterectomies, such as hormone replacement side effects or from impingement on surrounding organs when the fibroids grow large.
Possible Complications from Fibroid Surgery
All surgery risks complications, but there are many specific to fibroid surgery. In terms of the possible acute complications from fibroid surgery, the patient may experience:
- Excessive bleeding
- Incidental injuries to the bowel and ureter
- Thrombophlebitis (blood clots in the legs)
- Thromboembolism (vein obstructions from clots)
- A switch to hysterectomy from myomectomy mid-procedure
- Fibroid recurrence after surgery
- Uterine rupture when pregnant
- Adhesions in the abdomen.
These may be unavoidable or avoidable consequences of surgery, depending on the situation and progression of events. A patient who dies or is injured due to excessive bleeding, infection or a lacerated bowel may have their healthcare team to blame. Further, a myomectomy that turns into a hysterectomy may be devastating to someone who wants children in the future.
Choosing the Wrong Surgical Option to Treat Fibroids may Constitute Malpractice
Aside from the surgery itself, the type of surgery may cause unintended injury. Physicians who choose the wrong surgical method for the patient risk injuring the patient and possibly committing medical malpractice. Malpractice with uterine fibroids commonly occurs by misdiagnosis, improperly performed myomectomy, and postpartum complications. For instance, six years ago the FDA came on record to discourage laparoscopic power morcellation for hysterectomies or uterine fibroids, as the procedure can spread cancers like uterine sarcoma throughout the pelvic and abdominal region, reducing a woman’s survival chances. The likelihood of women with uterine fibroids having a uterine cancer is higher than for women who do not have uterine fibroids, although fibroids themselves are typically non-cancerous
Morcellation entails cutting or grinding tissue into small particles to enable the pieces to be removed from a small incision, but pieces of the uterine tissue can also scatter about the surgical area. That means that any existing cancer cells can also pervade the abdomen, making the cells harder to find and treat. Essentially, the procedure has the potential to cause treatable cancer to turn into untreatable cancer. The FDA mandated warnings to that effect, when doctors consider whether to perform the procedure and discuss the risks with their patients, explicitly warning of the possible cancer cells among the uterine tissue. In its updated guidance, the FDA recommends solely performing laparoscopic power morcellation for myomectomy or hysterectomy with a tissue containment system, and only in patients deemed good candidates for this type of procedure.
Other surgery options, such as endometrial ablation, may provide safer alternatives for fibroid treatment. Endometrial ablation entails removing or destroying the uterine lining by laser, electricity, freezing, wire loops, or boiling water. Myolysis represents another option, which involves inserting a needle into the fibroids to destroy them. In addition, uterine fibroid embolization is performed by threading a thin tube into the blood vessels to the fibroids to seal off the blood supply and shrink the fibroid. Many of these are considered outpatient services. Other novel approaches for uterine fibroids management include radiofrequency ablation, or heat destroying fibroids, and anti-hormonal drugs for symptom relief.
Misdiagnosed Fibroids may Turn out to be Cancer
A knowledgeable gynecologist should be able to detect fibroids by the patient’s reported symptoms, appropriate testing, or during a regular gynecological exam. Imaging tests can confirm what a doctor finds manually, using ultrasound, MRI, X-rays or CT scans. Fibroids may also be diagnosed through a more invasive hysterosalpingogram, which involves injecting dye into the uterus to create X-rays, or a sonohysterogram, which entails shooting water into the uterus for ultrasounds. Failing to test and confirm fibroids may be another form of medical negligence leading to permanent injuries. This form of negligence can be particularly damaging to women with underlying uterine cancer that is misdiagnosed as non-cancerous fibroids. It is also especially harmful for women who become pregnant and risk a ruptured uterus or premature baby.
Have You been Injured by Failed Diagnosis or Treatment of Uterine Fibroids in New Jersey?
Whatever the case may be, no one should suffer needlessly from medically mishandled fibroid diagnosis and treatment. Contact the New Jersey medical malpractice law firm of Fronzuto Law Group if you have questions about a case like this. An attorney is available to assist you in a free consultation. Simply call (973)-435-4551 or contact us below to learn more.