Opening arguments heard in St. Clair County med mal trial

Christina Stueve Hodges Aug. 22, 2012, 3:00am



The question of whether Dr. Anne Doll-Pollard was negligent when she performed a woman's hysterectomy seven years ago at St. Joseph's Hospital in Breese will be considered by 12 jurors selected Monday for a week-long trial in St. Clair County Circuit Judge Lloyd Cueto's court.

Margie Kaiser, 72, and her husband, Lamar Kaiser, sat silently in the courtroom as their attorney John Womick delivered opening statements Tuesday in their medical malpractice lawsuit against Doll-Pollard, related to surgery Kaiser underwent on Dec. 13, 2005.

Womick told the jury Doll-Pollard made a mistake she wouldn't admit to, but Doll-Pollard's attorney, Dawn Sallerson, said the doctor would be defending the surgical care she provided.

Womick called a hysterectomy a routine surgery, but Sallerson described it as a "serious surgery."

"She was appropriately treated," Sallerson said.

According to Kaiser's complaint, she bled following her hysterectomy, a removal of the uterus.

"This is a case about post-operative bleeding," Womick said.

"Margie consented to the procedure. What she didn't consent to was negligence."

Womick told the jury they would find Doll-Pollard's knowledge was "less than it should be," because the doctor frequently delivers babies but doesn't do a lot of surgeries.

"When a doctor makes a mistake, that doctor can admit or deny it," he said.

According to Womick, Doll-Pollard attempted a vaginal procedure, but found it wasn't going to work and then switched to abdominal surgery, Womick said.

While in a recovery room, Kaiser started bleeding, Womick said.

"Dr. Pollard was called," he said. "They knew something happened to Margie. Something unusual was going on."

Pollard had made a mistake, Womick said.

"We're here today, because of her refusal to accept reality," he said.

But according to Sallerson, evidence would show that Doll-Pollard was not negligent.

"This is a serious surgery," Sallerson said. "She was told that, and she wanted to put an end to this post-menopausal bleeding.

"Dr. Doll-Pollard will tell you when you are doing a hysterectomy, you have intraocular bleeding. Bleeding is a part of surgery. When you are cutting out the uterus, you have to cut through veins and arteries to get the uterus out."

Sallerson said the jury would find that Doll-Pollard inspected Kaiser for bleeding. She then stitched the patient and held pressure to stop any bleeding.

"When you have a bleed going on, you hold pressure on it," Sallerson said. "Dr. Pollard did that. The patient was found to be dry."

In her lawsuit, Kaiser claimed Doll-Pollard failed to recognize that she suffered internal bleeding post-surgery and that she failed to recognize signs and symptoms of hypertension and atrial fibrillation, caused by the internal blood loss.

But Sallerson said Kaiser was "appropriately treated."

Cueto told the court Monday he expects the case to continue into next week.

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