IL Woman Awarded $5M After Obstetrician Performed Unnecessary Hysterectomy

An Illinois jury awarded a woman $5 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit when her doctor performed an unnecessary hysterectomy at Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital after the birth of her first child – thereby preventing her from having more children.

Illinois medical malpractice

This Cook County Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit involves 41 year old Sharon Virginelli. According to news reports, then 31 year old Virginelli delivered her first child in 1999 with obstetrician, Dr. Pamela Lui of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. The delivery required Virginelli to undergo a Caesarean, or “C” section and she experienced postoperative bleeding. In response to the bleeding, Dr. Lui performed a hysterectomy – thereby preventing Virginelli from having additional children. It wasn't until years later that she realized the hysterectomy wasn't essential and she filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor.

A jury awarded her $5 million after her Illinois medical malpractice lawyer used experts to testify that Dr. Lui's decision to perform a hysterectomy was made in haste as medical records showed that Virginelli's bleeding had been slowing and that less drastic measures could have been used which would have allowed her to have more children.

Statute of limitations and discovery rule

The statute of limitations to file medical malpractice claims in Illinois is generally two years. So, how was Virginelli able to file a lawsuit so far after the hysterectomy occurred? The answer is that most states, including Illinois, recognize what is called the discovery rule – which will toll (or suspend) the statute of limitations until the patient discovers that he or she was injured. So, in Virginelli's case, she may not have realized that her hysterectomy was not required until years later – and from that point, she had two years in which to file a lawsuit.

Only five states, Arkansas, Indiana, Maine, New York and South Dakota, do not recognize the discovery rule. While the rest do, each state's laws and interpretations of laws can be quite different. Injured victims should consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to make sure that their case is not time barred.