Jonathan Foster, M.D., of Waterbury, Connecticut, has been fined $5,000 after performing a laparoscopic hysterectomy on a pregnant woman in January of 2011. To clarify, a hysterectomy is a medical procedure in which a womanâ€™s reproductive organs are removed from her body. Therefore, knowing for a fact that said woman is or is not pregnant before going through with this procedure is imperative.
Think of it this way. If mistreating a patient’s body were as easy to detect as it is in the children’s game Operation, Foster’s buzzer would have sounded immediately. Unfortunately, the human body is not a game, and all necessary precautions should be taken in order to ensure the well-being of all patients.
This specific example instantly brought me back to the countless stories of women who did not know they were pregnant until they found themselves in labor on their bathroom floor. The difference between those “I didn’t know I was pregnant” stories and the patient in question, however, is that they we’re not about to get a hysterectomy.
More: Can you really be pregnant without knowing it?
Foster requested his patient give a urine sample, but it the pregnancy test came back ambiguous. Foster’s next step should have been to take blood or issue an ultrasound to get a definitive answer, but instead, he opted to trust the patient, who claimed she was not pregnant and performed the hysterectomy regardless.
Whether or not the woman was aware of the pregnancy at the time of the procedure is unknown and no further details have been issued regarding the pregnancy at this time.
More: Are you sure you need that hysterectomy to treat fibroids?
According to the consent order issued by the state of Connecticut, Foster was issued a fine of $5,000 and was asked to complete an American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology decennial maintenance of certification process. Foster has complied and waived his right to a hearing in order to keep his license.
The situation at hand is a result of ignorance and laziness, and though it thoroughly disappoints me and develops further questions regarding individuals in the medical industry, people do make mistakes. By complying with his punishment, Foster is not denying his fault and that is a respectable trait.
When I was a freshman in college, my uncle went in for a one-day surgery. His doctors skipped any sort of pre-op testing, assuring him he was one of the healthiest 70-something-year-old men they’d ever met. Unfortunately, this one-day procedure turned into a one-month hospitalization, ultimately leading to his death. If they had undergone a pre-op, his doctors may have caught his heart dysfunction early and my uncle may still be with us today.
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Pre-operation testing is crucial to a patient’s health and should be issued before any and every procedure. The human body is perishable, and in times of medical attention, nothing should be left to assumption.