When ‘Routine’ Surgery Leads to Dire Consequences

Scartelli Olszewski P.C.

Though the Mayo Clinic reported last year that it is on the decline, circumcision remains perhaps the most common surgical procedure in the United States. It would be a mistake, however, to call circumcision a “routine” procedure. If there’s anything we’ve learned at Scartelli Olszewski, there’s no such thing as routine surgery. Our most recent reminder of this is a case we’re handling on behalf of a client in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania.When Colin (not his real name) was born, he suffered from hypospadias, a minor and relatively common birth defect that afflicts about one out of every 200 boys born in the United States. Hypospadias affects the development of the male genitalia, resulting in abnormal placement of the opening of the urethra. While the urethral opening typically is located on the end of the penis, in a child with hypospadias, the end of the penis is closed. The urethral opening instead usually is located somewhere on the underside of the penis, or perhaps at the base of the penis. The condition can be repaired through a surgical procedure later in childhood (or even in adulthood).According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, boys born with hypospadias should not be circumcised at birth, because the circumcision may complicate the later surgery. The tissue from the foreskin itself often is used to help repair the abnormal placement of the urethral opening. Without a foreskin, the hypospadias may not be repairable at all. Apparently failing to notice the abnormal placement of Colin’s urethral opening, which should have indicated hypospadias to any attending physician, doctors circumcised Colin anyway. As Colin’s attorneys, we have filed a lawsuit against Maria T. Bigus, D.O., Scranton Quincy Hospital Company, LLC, and Scranton Quincy Clinic Company, LLC, doing business as Moses Taylor Hospital and Physicians Health Alliance, Inc., respectively, alleging that the circumcision inflicted serious injuries on Colin’s urethra. The result has been disastrous for Colin. His parents soon realized that something was wrong when they noticed that their infant son’s urine split into two streams every time he urinated. It was also apparent that the act of urinating caused him serious discomfort. Now 18 months old, he already has endured numerous infections and a series of uncomfortable corrective treatments to relieve the symptoms of a urethral fistula created by the circumcision procedure. He may no longer be a candidate for the typical surgical repair procedure for hypospadias, and faces a childhood of embarrassment as everyday private tasks such as going to the restroom become a difficult and humiliating ordeal. Since the news broke of the lawsuit being filed in Colin’s case, our office has received several calls from other families who believe that their sons’ circumcisions may have led to similar complications. If you believe your son has suffered from urinary abnormalities as a result of a circumcision, please contact the Scartelli Olszewski’s medical malpractice attorneys in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre for a consultation.