It is very rare for a court in Ohio to allow a medical malpractice lawsuit to go to trial without the victim showing that a medical expert has reviewed the case. This is, in part, because it is the victim’s duty to show that there was negligent medical treatment or a surgical mistake, which is most often shown by an assertion that what the physician did was outside the professional standard of care. Who best to review that but a medical expert?
In a recent out-of-state medical malpractice case, however, a woman relied on the doctrine of “res ipsa loquitur,” which says that if an injury could only have happened because of negligence, it becomes the defendant’s burden to prove that there was no negligence. The appeals court in this case found that res ipsa loquitur applied when a woman started secreting feces from her vagina following a surgery on her intestines.
The woman had undergone surgery on her small intestines and surgeons were going to remove a portion and then reattach the remaining intestines to her rectum with a surgical stapler. Instead, they accidentally stapled her intestine to her vagina. Fortunately, the error was discovered the following day, but the follow-up surgery left her with conversion disorder. She was unable to completely control her hand movement, she was weak on the left side of her body, and developed poor vision and speech.
Res ipsa loquitur does not always apply, but if there is no good explanation for an injury, a medical malpractice lawyer may be able to help bring a lawsuit under this important doctrine.