Lack of lubrication during Pap smear causes chronic pain...

by Becky
(San Diego, CA)

I am 57 yrs old, had my uterus removed but still have my ovaries, and I have been dry in my vagina for over 2 yrs because of menopausal symptoms. Although I am dry down there, I was comfortable as long as I didn't have sex.

My most recent pap smear examination caused me great vaginal pain immediately after the OBGYN doctor inserted the speculum without applying lubrication. As I lay there crying and constantly telling her I was in great pain, she continued forward with the exam, reassuring me that she was almost done. No nurse was in the room to assist the doctor.

I've been enduring this acute pain for over 2 weeks now. Since then, I have followed up with my PCP, who diagnosed me with Vaginal Atrophy. Also, my pain got progressively worse as a couple more days passed, so I spent 6 hours in the Emergency room seeking relief from this sharp pain.

I cryingly denied both my doctor and the ER from performing a pelvic exam, due to the acute pain I was still experiencing during both appointments. My fear was so great that both doctors could see my anxiety.

I have 2 more weeks of waiting for another OBGYN appointment. That was the earliest time available. This new doctor is not part of my HMO network, but I don't trust my provider as I have discovered that they added more comments to my original medical report that supports their side of the incident. I compared the original report with another copy I asked for, and they have been altered.

Would chronic pain & suffering as a result of my doctor not using lubrication during my pap smear be grounds for medical malpractice? Please help me understand what recourse I have to recover these out-of-network doctor's bills, and for my suffering. Thank you.

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ANSWER for "Lack of lubrication during Pap smear causes chronic pain...":

Becky (San Diego, CA):

While no one would deny you have been experiencing terrible pain, that pain, in and of itself, is not a sufficient basis for a medical malpractice claim. To have the basis of a med mal claim would require a more permanent injury.

To establish the predicate for medical malpractice you would have to prove the doctor’s acts or omissions in the performance of the procedure fell beneath the standard of care practiced by other OBGYNs in the medical community.

In other words, you would have to prove other doctors in the medical community would have lubricated the area before inserting the speculum, and it was not only standard, but a required practice. Moreover, in doing so, doctors had no discretion.

You would then have to prove you sustained an injury. While you suffered substantial pain, that pain in and of itself does not rise to the level of injury which would support a viable medical malpractice claim.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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