Is a Branded Uterus That Big of a Deal?

Julie Ryan Evans
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surgeryIf it hadn't been for a random sequence of events, Ingrid Paulicivic may have gone the rest of her life never knowing her name was branded on her uterus.

While she was unconscious, undergoing an operation, Dr. Red Alinsod used an "electrocautery device" to write her name on her uterus.

Paulicivic went in for a post-op visit complaining of inexplicable burns on her legs post-surgery. It was only after examining photographs from the surgery (which the doctor initially hesitated to hand over) that she and her husband saw the evidence of what the doctor had done -- "Ingrid" spelled out, clear as day, on her uterus.

Shocking?

Maybe, but what if you learn that her uterus was already removed and the operation in question was a hysterectomy?

It wasn't like the doctor branded a part of her body that was going back inside her. Her uterus was no longer part of her, nor did she have any plans to keep it. So does it matter that he wrote her name on it?

Dr. Alinsod says he did it because he "did not want to get it confused with others." Paulicivic's attorneys claim the doctor was just "fooling around and having fun."

The details get a little murky. Dr. Alinsod claims he was friends with the woman before the procedure and thought she'd be okay with it; she says they weren't friends. The fact that he initially hesitated to hand over the pictures also casts some suspicion as to if he knew his action was questionable.

It's frightening enough to undergo medical procedures in which we put our full trust, our entire being, in the hands of medical professionals without having to worry about them performing needless procedures or acting in anything less than a professional manner.

But this case isn't as cut and dry as some lunatic like Dr. Larkin, who in 1999 carved his initials into a patient's stomach.

I'm torn on this one. If the organ was already removed from her body and identifying it in such a manner was really going to help the doctor do his job better, then I don't see the problem -- except perhaps if he was sloppy with the branding device and burned Paulicivic. But if it was just about having some fun, then I'm more concerned, but still not convinced it's that big of a deal.

What do you think about this case of the branded uterus -- medical malpractice or lawsuit-hungry couple?

 

Image via SarahMcD/Flickr


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