Saturday, October 3, 2009

She almost died, but the College of Physicians and Surgeons ruled no negligence

The rate of hysterectomies is five times greater in the south in the U.S. and in Newfoundland than in the rest of North America. And, as it is in the U.S., the fox is guarding the hen house in Newfoundland.

On September 21, 2009 just four days after Sharon Virginelli’s court victory (Click on the link on the right under Previous Posts) of a $5M award for an “unnecessary” hysterectomy, it was ruled that a gynecologist in Gander, New Foundland, was not negligent in performing a hysterectomy that left a woman with a colostomy, put in intensive care for a month, and in the hospital for two months.

But Annie Ralph has not yet had her day in court. The no negligence finding was by Newfoundland and Labrador’s medical watchdog, the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Annie has filed a lawsuit (called a statement of claim in Newfoundland), against Dr. Doug Torraville and The Central Health Authority.

Annie entered the hospital for a hysterectomy three years ago, in October of 2006, expecting to be home in a few days. She was in intensive care for 28 days and in the hospital for two months. On the day of the surgery it was evident there were complications. Three days later she became very ill, and exploratory surgery revealed that her colon had been perforated. She has since undergone three surgeries in attempts to repair the damage to her colon and reverse a colostomy.

When the College of Physicians and Surgeons investigated her complaint against Torraville they determined that he was not negligent. The College said Ralph was warned that colon damage could be a complication during a hysterectomy. However being warned of a possible risk does not make acceptable the damage that Torraville inflicted on her by perforating her colon, not repairing it during the surgery, and putting her life at risk by not responding timely to her symptoms. Furthermore, did Torraville inform her of the life long, permanent consequences of hysterectomy? Did he inform her that her sex life would never be the same? That her vagina would be shortened? That hysterectomy would increase three-fold her risk of heart disease? It is unlikely those consequences of hysterectomy will even be mentioned when she gets her day in court, because they are losses women are not usually compensated for. You cannot see them. Unlike the infection that almost killed Annie Ralph, and unlike her colostomy bag, they are not documented in the medical record, and the damage is not visible. The defense’s expert’s witnesses in hysterectomy medical malpractice cases usually say “She making it up, it’s all in her head”.

Gynecologists get away with performing hysterectomies by not admitting that it is a damaging surgery. Because the female organs are internal, it is easy to deny what is not visible to the eye.

HERS will be monitoring and reporting the outcome of her case. If you were involved in a medical malpractice lawsuit, please share your experience. We all know how difficult it is to bring legal action against a doctor, particularly when in hysterectomy cases. Please post a comment to let Annie know you support her bringing this action against Doug Torraville and The Central Health Authority.



At October 4, 2009 at 1:21 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think just about anyone would support Annie's case, except of course a physician who regularly engages in this kind of maiming and in Annies case, almost life-threatening surgical practice. I find it interesting that women who's capacity and functioning have been reduced post-op are then expected to explain the what and the how.

Would one expect an lobotomy patient to also articulate in words and meaning that would be understandable to a person not having been vitimized and assaulted in such a fashion. But we are asking women to convince a lawyer and legal system, a jury, judge, doctors and society at large concerning thier injuries.

We ask this of women, because the professionals who perform hysterectomy as in lobotomy, who have the technical knowledge of the body and its complex systems, to restrain themselves and not to inflict harm amongst thier patients. To honestly inform society when any harm or misjudgement takes place.

But the medical community has a practice of taking actions regardless of the consequences to the patient. Give awards, document in the annals of history, write favorable studies, and produce conferences retolling the unmistakable virtues of very damaging practices to thier patients.

So it was with lobotomy and so it is with hysterectomy.

At October 4, 2009 at 2:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My heart breaks for you. It is criminal that you have been done a life threatening, great injustice. Arrogance and money is a hideous and poor excuse for the damages you are battling. I hope you find strength and the knowledge you need to move forward as best you can. You are in my prayers. My doctor performed an unnecessary surgery on me. My outcome is not near as severe as yours, but it has devestated a very important part of my life: however, it has not stopped me from sharing the HERS information with as many as I can.

At October 4, 2009 at 3:25 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correction: I meant to say, each individual women now has to articulate the devastation done from removal or amputation of the uterus, let alone adding the ovaries to additional damage that can suffered as Annie has experienced.

And even after all that women experienced is beyond and after the fact that they are not allowed to give informed consent. As too was the case in lobotomy.

One thing I'm curious about, are there doctors who have first-hand experience with hysterectomy, obviously male doctors can't have a hysterectomy and female doctors can't perform one on themselves. Does this preclude doctors from ever experiencing the same fate they dole out to their patients?

At October 4, 2009 at 5:33 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, the gynecologists don't experience the devastation, but ironically, they are considered experts on the subject.

At October 4, 2009 at 10:11 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

TQ said:
"One thing I'm curious about, are there doctors who have first-hand experience with hysterectomy, obviously male doctors can't have a hysterectomy and female doctors can't perform one on themselves. Does this preclude doctors from ever experiencing the same fate they dole out to their patients?"

Actually, someone posted on the Name that Doctor and Hospital blog that Dr. Ruth Schwartz of Rochester, NY had a hysterectomy and then performed them on her patients. The poster didn't know she'd had one and couldn't understand why this once beautiful doctor aged so quickly until after she herself was victimized by Dr. Schwartz.

At October 4, 2009 at 10:32 PM , Anonymous Mad as hell said...

Annie, I'm so sorry this was done to you. I pray that you have the strength and endurance to fight for justice. Only by holding these arrogant gynecologists accountable for their horrific deeds will we put an end to the hysterectomy mill.

All of us on this blog are cheering you on.

At October 5, 2009 at 5:46 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Annie you hand in with the law suit, also check into having pudendal nerve damage if you are in pain. Go to and see if you have nerve damage that can be tested. Most gyns do not know how to test for nerve damage. Since in the US the legal system evaluates what the doctor's medical notes say and a physician will not see you, there is a medical group that an attorney should use for malpractice. Let the attorney get the physicians. Also, get checked out by other specialists that aren't GYNs. Get away from that town to find an attorney, they all gather at the same country club. But don't stop. You need compensations for the medical. Keep all you medical receipts and a journal of how you feel and what was discussed at your doctors visits.

At October 5, 2009 at 9:05 AM , Anonymous Mad as Hell said...


Also, I believe it's recommended that you have someone with you when being examined for damages resulting from the surgery.

Hang in there - we're here to support you!

At October 5, 2009 at 1:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is unfair that you have been taken advantage of in such brutal manner. I hope you eventually win your case. My doctor told me I didn't need my ovaries because after menopause they didn't produce hormones any more. I have to tell you that, I was in love and my sex drive was over the top working better than it ever had after menopause. So my hormones were STILL producing. I was in good shape physically and eating well and in love. So the doctors do not always tell the truth, nor do they always know what they are talking about. All body parts are vital to one's welfare. And obviously the risk of the surgeon making a fatal mistake is high. My friend had her uretha unknowing cut during a removal of an ovary. 5 yeqrs later she found this out and had to have her kidney removed because it had died and became septic and she almost died. How do we know if the doctor is not drunk or high prior to surgery. Why do they not have to take a drug test and present the test to us 15 minutes prior to surgery?

At October 5, 2009 at 2:31 PM , Anonymous DocF said...

Regardless of what procedure he did, this "doctor" should lose his license. He is a butcher, not a healer.

At October 6, 2009 at 9:53 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Annie, I am so sorry that you -and so many countless others!- have been betrayed by those sworn to be your medical advocate. HERS is correct in saying that it is only when hysterectomy's and ovary removal's dire and direct consequences (not complications!) become widely known by the lay public will these unnecessary surgeries be pried from the ever greedy grasp of gyns.

Therefore, education on this subject is imperative. HERS is again correct in that we must ask the media to shed light on the subject at every opportunity. Unfortunately, the media tends to remain as silent as the medical profession itself. Both tend to have large vested financial interests in doing so. For the media, much as hysterectomy may compromise a huge part of a hospital's revenue stream, so does medical advertising tend to compromise a huge part of media's own revenue streams. Just start by noticing- and commenting on!- how often you see drug ads in all media nowadays.

How to further combat it? You start pointing out the huge influence that medical advertising may play in what gets media attention. You start pointing out the huge financial ties between big pharma, and physicians, and hospitals--and what that can mean to any individual's healthcare.

Then there is the matter of gender discrimination in the media. Last month, Dr. Oz had female gonads (ovaries), a uterus, and a vagina on the examination table for visual and physical inspection--only to talk about vaginal discharge. When the subject was the human liver and it was on the table, its' primary functions were discussed in language understandable to the lay public.

Yesterday, Oz's topic was the importance of male sexual and endocrine function..but this time his physical examination was limited to a pair of walnuts. Yes, I said walnuts.

Why is that? Why can female gonads be shown, but their function not discussed, while the male gonads can't be shown..but their functions detailed?

The only answer is twofold: that the medical profession harbors prejudice against the female gender and that the medical profession has dark secrets to keep. I urge everyone reading this to start a dialogue with family and friends about the huge disparity in healthcare when it comes to ultra conservative treatment for male sexual, reproductive,
and endocrine organs as opposed to the radical, destructive treatments that women are routinely subjected to--for organs serving the same functions!

You see, it is all about getting the lay public to understand the inherent and long term damage that these unnecessary surgeries do. I am afraid that that alone will still the gyns' knives. For great suggestions on how to get the word out, please read the 09-26-09 piece, "Twenty-two Million Strong," on this same site.

At October 6, 2009 at 6:56 PM , Anonymous Mad as Hell said...

I was somewhat encouraged to hear that Dr. Oz stated on his first show that 83% of hysterectomies are unnecessary. I thought maybe he would talk about this subject on another show but he had the perfect opportunity when displaying the female sex organs and failed us.

At October 7, 2009 at 1:06 AM , Anonymous Zoe said...

Intestinal injury is not uncommon after hysterectomy, especially laporoscoptic hysterectomy. Having a colostomy proves the injury as it is visual and you did not request bowel surgery. Otherwise it is hard to prove the actual injury. Make sure to get plenty of pictures for court. Appeal any adverse rulings against you. You were tricked and there is both fraud and malpractice here at a criminal level. Get the word out about what happened to you. Walk with courage.

At October 7, 2009 at 8:05 PM , Anonymous Molly said...

most importantly, you must have a very substantial law firm- no mom and pop offices or solo practices- they can't do a malpractice case. the defendants would just bury them in paper work until they give up. I speak from experience.
Reading this story makes me realize that this generation of doctors will not admit that there ever is malpractice. We will have to wait for turnover of these greedy doctors

At October 8, 2009 at 6:34 PM , Anonymous Abigail said...

Let's see...a woman spills hot coffee on herself pulling out a McDonald's drive thru window and successfully sues for millions because she claimed the coffee was too hot. Yet, a woman can suffer life long physical damage at the hands of another human being, and there is no recourse? You've just GOT to love our legal system.

Aren't doctors first given the oath to "do no harm"? I am sure that Annie was told that intestinal damage was a risk, but I would bet the ranch that she was also told that it is a very low risk and almost never happens. If her doctor had told her that it was a great risk, I am guessing that she would have made a different decision.

Unfortunately, many doctors, especially those that can perform surgery, have a God complex and think that they know better than anyone. I am sorry that Annie was the victim of one such physician.

At October 8, 2009 at 8:07 PM , Anonymous Emma said...

One of the law firms I interviewed had won a case for a 75 year-old woman whose one nipple was off-center from breast reconstruction. Her award - $300,000. And this is purely cosmetic!

Yet they wouldn't take my case citing tort reform and hostile juries in my county.

At October 12, 2009 at 8:42 PM , Anonymous Pam said...

Praying for you and feeling your pain ! Best of luck to you and here's to the Courts Ruling in Your Favor !

At October 12, 2009 at 11:32 PM , Blogger Elizabeth Ann said...

Dearest Annie:

quickly! Find out the statute of limitations in your area, because if that runs have no fight. That happened to me.

Make your voice heard, get as well as you are able (with God's help, you will get stronger, both physically and otherwise...He is with you.)

We are here.


At October 13, 2009 at 1:40 PM , Anonymous Sarah said...

Woman Compares Forced C-Section to Rape
Joy Szabo, 32, is about to give birth, but the only hospital in her area is insisting she undergo a C-section, even though she had informed her doctor that she would prefer not to have surgery.

Szabo already has three children, two of whom she delivered vaginally. Her second child was delivered by emergency C-section due to a placental abruption. Administrators at Page Hospital in Arizona ruled in June to prohibit vaginal births after Caesareans due to limited resources.

Szabo isn't buying it. She has met with Haryasz twice and says, "They don't want to allow VBACs because she said they aren't equipped for emergency C-sections, but if they can't do emergency C-sections, they shouldn't be having labor and delivery at all."

So far, neither side has budged. While the hospital told Szabo it would get a court order to perform a C-section if necessary, Szabo is skeptical that a judge would order a pregnant woman to undergo surgery that many consider unnecessary (see the aptly named Unnecesarean for more on that topic). She says it is her right to choose how to deliver.

According to the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN), almost one-third of births in the United States are by Caesarean section, even though the recommended rate is between 5 and 10 percent. ICAN is partnering with a lawyer from Legal Voice to fight VBAC bans in several states in the Northwest.

For Szabo's part, her message is clear: As the message above points out, she doesn't want anyone entering her body without her consent, including a doctor. Do you think Szabo should be allowed to deliver without a C-section?

At October 13, 2009 at 1:42 PM , Blogger HERS Foundation said...



At October 13, 2009 at 9:08 PM , Blogger kattaztrophe said...

I clearly remember not being informed that intestinal injury could occur prior to my surgery. All I was informed about was that I could suffer 'burns' from lasers used during surgery or complications from anesthetics.
I'm still searching for an attorney to help me. My life is miserable and to think that not long ago I was a healthy, happy person.
I hope she wins her case.

At October 15, 2009 at 7:30 PM , Anonymous Mad as Hell said...


I wish you luck in finding an attorney who will fight for justice for what was done to you, not only for you but for all of us on this blog.

Every lawsuit brings us closer to ending this abomination.

At October 28, 2009 at 3:11 PM , Anonymous Mad as Hell said...

This is just a reminder to add the name of the doctor and hospital that hysterectomized and/or castrated you on the Name that Doctor and Hospital blog. Also include your story of what you were and were not told before that fateful day.

At November 10, 2009 at 8:38 AM , Anonymous Lisa said...

I hope this doctor loses his license, he's a disgrace to the medical profession. Obviously he doesn't have the skills required to perform a hysterectomy. I am an RN, I had a myomectomy, the doctor I found does at least three per week, I didn't trust anyone else to do the surgery because of the risk. Now my insurance won't pay the full amount. Unfortunately we are supposed to have choices here in the USA, but we are forced to take risks, do whatever we can to maintain our health, I see so many patients with complications from myomectomy, hysterectomy, etc. We as women are neglected by this system. If doctors weren't anticipating a profit in each patient, we might be better cared for. They might refer us to doctors with the expertise to handle our disorders. Because right now they are fighting the system, playing with our lives, while trying to make money. It is so corrupt, some doctors forgot the patient.

At August 16, 2010 at 3:09 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, My daughter brenda just went through the same thing , was told she needed a hystrectomy and that they had found a huge mass also. so they went in removed it and when she came out of surgery she was out of it , the nite they put her into a room , she was in alot of pain, they gave her morphine to help but it was so bad they gave it and another drug, she wimpered and went to sleep finally. the very next morning she woke up with morphine and said she could walk , and was doing good even tho she was bleeding. they sent her home , this was on wednesday , by sunday she was so bad and bleeding so bad , I kept calling for her doctor , an associate said she would give her something elsse for the pain , that this was to be expected, so I gave her meds , and still she wasnt even able to sit up , she finally cried out said Take me back to the hospital mom, so I rushed her back , and they took her finally to emergency room , and after more morphine , etc they sent her back home . I was so angry , thery would not help her , they claimed they sent meds scripts home with ehr but they didnt nor did they even dissmiss her from the E R . the following 2 days of extrem,e pain and vomiting , bleeding gushing out of her I again took her back , not once seeing or talking to her doctor they did put her back into the hospital gave her I V S with antibiotics and kept her over another nite , acting like they all cared they again dissmissed her saying she had a very bad infection, but nothing they could do for her. to take her meds and see from there. she is still not able to get up , eat , she has a strong smell, dont think its all from an infection , but the bleeding still hasnt stopped , cant even sit up . I again called her doctor , he wasnt there , and again his nurse said it was all in her head , to take the meds, and eat . thats it . so here she is so ill, and no one wants to help her what is wrong with this ?? my daughter will die if I cant get her the help she needs but who do I call or go to now ? Dr . Hunter doesnt seem to concernered , so do I just watch this continue ?

At August 16, 2010 at 3:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am the mother of brenda, I do know what your talking about , my daughter has a doctor here that did the same thing, she is in the other room , and close to death, , this is so stupid a once healthy person , and this is what is left. she has a son, and he needs her , I need her , I am wondering does anyone out there know of who is a true doctor who can help my daughter as well?? Before she dies? I have called many times and cantr seem to get her help. I also will file suit on this doctor , and better yet I wont quit. I have made some calls this morning and goiong to file suit right away.
I feel for you little girl, I know what you have been through and there is no reson for any of the pain and suffering you have gone through. I want this guy stopped right now myself, he was supposed to be one of the best , I wonder... Good luck and keep us informed how your doing . I might lose my daughter over this but I wouldnt wish any of this on my dog. I know there are many more out there , what did you do?

At October 4, 2010 at 11:45 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of us women who have been maimed in some form of another with our wombs and abdomen should rally attornies of the womb, now that advertisements are from anything just about these days BUT NO WOMB! is there like a deep social guilt in the universal minds of these witch womb doctors and attornies? I've been in pain since November 1980, no doctor or attorney wants to touch me, and now Im freakin MAD. what started small has developed inself into other areas of my body creating other diseases as Kaiser nudged me along for self treatments... first nothing they can do, then will not do... then lies of "she has an ovary, and she doesn't have one" from its in her head to live with the pain to not want to touch someone else's surgery, to offer hysterectomy but it may not help, the scars have smashed in your ovary to your wall, and it blocks your colon - there's no real healp for you... etc. I lost my marriage, no sex life for me ever ... and things look really gloomy physically... I look pregnant, hanging fat, when I eat well. I exercise til it hurts. I now have: osteoporosis, IBS, Digestive Disorder, gout, diverticulitis, gastritis, pre diabetic, poor circulation, migraine headaches, sleep apnea, chronic constipation, when before 1980 I was in perfect health no pain ever. The initial doctor jacked me up, one tried to help said I needed another operation (V. Hufnegal) then after her the doctor took the wrong ovary, and still left me with the bad one from another health facility. Then went to Kaiser, and they lied from 1980s nudging me on to the condition I am today. LETS ALL BREAK THE STATUE OF LIMITATIONS FOR THE WOUNDED WOMBS!!! So tell me, what can I do? I can't sew it's been too long? Im still in pain... where is the help of God for me? or Is there?

At January 4, 2011 at 10:14 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Canada (Annie's story is in Gander, Canadian province of Newfoundland) is very different from the USA in terms of medical malpractice lawsuits and awards. Back in the 1980's, I worked as a temporary legal secretary for a law firm in Toronto, which represented hospitals. Browsing through the files one day, I was shocked to find evidence of deliberate victimization of patients trying to obtain justice after medical malpractice. Annie's case has received no publicity in Canada (ZERO), and the news outlets in Newfoundland are joined at the hip to the establishment. For my own uterine-wall fibroids, one of the top gynecologists in Toronto told me, when I was in around 43 years old, that Dr. Vicky Hufnagel in California was a fake. I had brought in her book "No More Hysterectomies" to ask his opinion. I didn't believe him, and his whole attitude towards me was abusive and dismissive. I still have my uterus. I still have my large fibroids. But I'm doing OK. A few years back I did some research on Dr. Hufnagel, who I believe was really a pioneer with her laser surgery techniques, while she also warned women about the damage of regular hysterectomy surgery, including loss of sexual function and vaginal reduction. Dr. Hufnagel has disappeared, after she was destroyed by the California medical establishment, with the help of her ex-husband and corrupt law enforcement officials. I wrote up her story and tried to get it published on the internet, but I didn't have a blog at the time and no one was interested. I no longer have my research notes unfortunately. But now I wonder if Dr. Hufnagel is even alive. She suffered greatly and lost everything she had.

At January 4, 2011 at 11:39 PM , Blogger HERS Foundation said...

There have been many advocates and whistle blowers who spoke out against hysterectomy without informed consent. None of them were persecuted by having their medical license permanently revoked in every state.

At November 6, 2012 at 10:00 AM , Anonymous Andrea said...

I was tricked into a radical hysterectomy by evil doctors fabricating cancer, because they needed a guinea pig for training practice at MMC. They mangled me internally, and left me doubled over in agony, and wailing from the depth of my soul every day since June 2005. They abused their power, breached my trust, violated all my health rights,violated their duty of care, and deliberately, pre-meditatedly violated the Hippocratic Oath, and first did the MOST GREVIOUS BODY HARM for personal gain....


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