Kiwi woman's uterus removed after 'traumatic' thermal injury during operation

The doctor breached the HDC Consumers' Rights code for failures in her care.
The doctor breached the HDC Consumers' Rights code for failures in her care. Photo credit: Getty

A woman has described her experience with a doctor as "extremely traumatic" after suffering a thermal injury to her uterus.

The woman, known as Ms A, had to undergo a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) as an outcome of the faulty procedure.

A Health and Disability report published on Monday said the doctor, who cannot be named, provided inadequate services and breached the HDC Consumers' Rights code for failures in her care.

Ms A visited an obstetrician and gynaecologist in 2017 regarding treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding and contraceptive options.

The doctor recommended thermal ablation (removal of a thin layer of tissue in the uterus) to control heavy bleeding and an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD).

Following the procedure, she began experiencing "severe contraction-like pain" and sought further treatment from the doctor.

The doctor believed it was the IUD which was causing the pain and removed it. 

Ms A continued to experience "more severe pain that kept on getting worse", the report wrote, so called an ambulance and was taken to hospital.

She was found to have suffered a thermal injury to her uterus during the thermal ablation procedure.

This resulted in the woman undergoing a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus), bilateral salpingectomy (removal of the fallopian tubes), a Hartmann's procedure (removal of part of the colon and/or rectum) and an associated stoma (diversion of the bowel to an opening in the abdominal wall).

'Traumatic - both mentally and physically'

"This whole situation has been extremely traumatic for me both mentally and physically and the repercussions on my family and home life have been equally traumatic," she said, as quoted in the report.

"I was unaware of the risks involved and certainly would not have agreed to this procedure if I knew that the risks would be this extreme and end like this. 

"I hope that no other women in New Zealand or anywhere for that matter, has had to go through this and believe that the procedure should be withdrawn from being available."

Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Rose Wall described this as an "extremely unfortunate outcome".

"A woman has suffered an extremely unfortunate outcome as a result of damage during an apparently routine procedure," Wall said.

"I acknowledge the traumatic impact that this has had on her life."

The doctor provided a written apology to the woman and since then, the District Health Board has agreed to closely monitor all endometrial ablation cases performed with a thermal device.