A few months ago, Michelle Doig-Collins checked into a surgery center for a common gynecological procedure. Now, she’s preparing for a lawsuit.
Doig-Collins, from Rancho Santa Margarita, California, told CBS Los Angeles that her trust in her OB/GYN was destroyed when, weeks after the procedure and numerous follow-up visits for pain and bleeding, she discovered on her own a large object protruding from her body.
Her medical odyssey began in April. She checked into a local surgery center for a uterine ablation due to a history of heavy periods and a tubal ligation because she did not want to have more children.
A mother of three, Doig-Collins expected to start feeling better a few days after surgery. But instead, she felt worse.
“I was nauseous, had heavy cramping, heavy pain,” she said.
She returned to her doctor’s office three times after her surgery, where they did a pelvic exam and looked inside. She was diagnosed with a severe vaginal infection – a condition she had never had before.
Antibiotics eased her symptoms temporarily, but on July 3, the pain came back with a vengeance.
When she went to the restroom, she freaked out upon discovering an object protruding from her body.
“My toilet paper got caught on a metal probe,” Doig-Collins said.
Her husband rushed her to the emergency room and they soon received an explanation for her agony. The X-ray showed the tip of a surgical instrument she described as “huge” – it was used during her procedure and had been left inside her pelvic area.
“How did no one see this?” medical malpractice attorney Jeffery Greenman asked. “I am telling you from experience that it is not that rare.”
Up to 4,000 Americans leave surgery every year with a retained surgical item – a foreign object still in their body that doesn’t belong.
“She very well could have died. She could have got sepsis or some other horrible infection that didn’t go away,” Greenman said.
Greenman, who is representing Doig-Collins, is investigating how the instrument was left inside of her and why it wasn’t discovered during postoperative exams.
“I had this thing in me for 11 weeks,” Doig-Collins said.
CBS Los Angeles contacted corporate headquarters for the Surgical Center at Saddleback, where the procedure was performed, to ask if they could explain what might have happened. The center has not responded. Orange Coast Women’s Medical Group, which employs Doig-Collins’ surgeon and provided her post-operative care, has also not responded to an interview request.