Case of Post-hysterectomy Nephrectomy : Doctrine of “Res ipsa loquitur”
The plaintiff received hysterectomy performed by the defendant under the impression of myoma, and suffered from post-operatively from peritonitis, left ureter injury, and subsequently left hydronephrosis. Several subsequent operations were performed to preserve left urinary tract but in vain, and only led to left nephrectomy. The plaintiff claimed for damages.
The court applied the doctrine of “Res ipsa loquitur” to shift the burden of proof toward the defendant, and found for the plaintiff. The reasoning is that since the ureter injury after hysterectomy is only 1%, so rare that it won’t happen if the defendant should have exerted the reasonable prudent technique. Besides, the complication is caused by surgical instrument and situation within the exclusive control of the defendant, and is not caused by any voluntary action or contribution on the part of the plaintiff.
This review article elaborates in-depth what the 1% complication stands for in medical literature and explores the feasibility of applying the doctrine of “Res ipsa loquitur” in this case. This review holds that in medical malpractice litigation the court should order expert testimony, or request an agency or organization to conduct an investigation to determine the matter of facts conform to the elements of doctrine of “Res ipsa loquitur” or not, in order to assess the feasibility of applying this doctrine.