September 20, 2001-Couple Sues Doctor For 'Mistakenly' Removing Her Cervix
Lynn and Dean Jaramillo allege that Dr. James Edwin Ramsey, of Orange Coast Women's Medical Group in Laguna Hills, mistakenly took out Lynn's cervix in March 2000 when she went in to have two fibroids removed from her uterus. Fibroids are usually benign tumors that commonly grow on the uterine wall. "This was an amputation," said Holly McGregor, an attorney for the Jaramillos.
Ironically, Ramsey, a 30-year veteran who has a clean record with the Medical Board of California, had recommended removing the fibroids because they could interfere with a pregnancy. "All of our neighbors are pregnant," Lynn Jamarillo said. "I always wanted children. You never get over something like this. Part of me is still in denial." Ramsey, who graduated from Loma Linda School of Medicine in 1970, did not return a call Tuesday.
The state medical board has requested medical records from Ramsey to probe the charges, said Robert A. Mosier, an attorney for the Jaramillos. The medical board does not comment on possible investigations, said board spokeswoman Candice Cohen. Ramsey's license is current and his public record is unblemished. A doctor's public record can include any formal accusations of wrongdoing made by the board, disciplinary action taken for such things as substance abuse, any felony convictions, and any malpractice judgments or arbitration awards.
Jaramillo went to Ramsey, her gynecologist of 10 years, in early 2000 for increased vaginal bleeding. She told him that she and Dean would be marrying in June, and they planned to have children. Dean Jamarillo has a son, Aaron, 15, from a previous marriage.
She took Ramsey's advice to have the two fibroids removed. At age 35, she didn't want to wait any longer to have kids. But the lawsuit said that during surgery on March 3, 2000, instead of removing both fibroids, Ramsey sliced out one and then excavated her entire cervix, apparently mistaking it for the other fibroid.
After surgery, Ramsey told Lynn Jaramillo that he had to remove "a small bit of the cervix," but it was "no problem" and once she became pregnant, the small defect would only require a "stitch or two," according to the lawsuit. At this point, Jaramillo had no reason to doubt Ramsey's word. "I totally trusted him," she said. A month later, Jaramillio reported severe abdominal pain, according to the suit, and Ramsey recommended a hysterectomy after discovering some cysts.
He also noticed that one of the fibroids he originally was supposed to remove still was there, the lawsuit alleges. The suit accuses Ramsey of attempting to cover up his mistake. A hysterectomy would wipe out evidence that Jaramillo's cervix had been removed. Jaramillo declined to have a hysterectomy. She did, however, go through with surgery to remove the cysts, in June 2000. After going to two other doctors for second opinions, she had a third operation, to remove another fibroid this time using another doctor.
Things were looking good, until another doctor Jamarillo went to for reconstructive work in January told her cervix was missing. The news was devastating. With a total of four surgeries behind her including her latest, a hysterectomy, in February Lynn Jaramillo said she feels physically fine, but her emotional state still is fragile. "There is no dollar amount you can put on someone's emotions," she said. Medical malpractice lawsuits are limited to $250,000 for pain and suffering, but the Jaramillos also are alleging assault and fraud, which don't fall under the limit, Mosier said. It's not about the money, Lynn Jamarillo insists. "I would hate for this to happen to someone else," she said.
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