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Suit Claims Hospital Altered Consent Form in Disfigured Penis Case

Anesthesiologist says surgeon switch left her husband disfigured.

Published: July 28, 2014

There are certain perks to working in surgery. Anesthesiologist Sarah Hipps, MD, was able to hand pick the urologist she wanted to operate on her cancer-stricken husband at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle. But now she's suing the hospital, accusing her colleagues of botching the surgery that "obliterated" her husband's penis and lying about who was authorized to perform the procedure.

When Matthew Hipps presented for surgery in February 2013 to have a cancerous tumor removed from his abdomen, he learned the excision would require the placement of a stent in his right utera, according to the lawsuit. The couple tabbed urologist Kathleen Kobashi, MD, head of Virginia Mason's urology department, to perform the surgery.

As the scheduled case time approached, however, Dr. Kobashi had not yet arrived in the surgical department. The pre-op staff asked the Hipps' if her fellow, Chong Choe, MD, could explain the procedure and have Mr. Hipps sign the surgical consent form. They agreed, but verbally confirmed that Dr. Kobashi would perform the procedure. Dr. Choe assured them that she would.

However, operative records indicate Dr. Kobashi was a no-show, and that Dr. Choe placed the catheter instead during a procedure labeled "traumatic." Mr. Hipps was in severe pain in the days and months after surgery, and suffered through a complicated and agonizing recovery that required multiple surgeries to repair his penis, according to the lawsuit. The couple is seeking damages commensurate with the financial and mental suffering they claim to have endured.

When the Hipps' asked to review the consent form that indicated only Dr. Kobashi was to perform the surgery, Virginia Mason provided a photocopy on which Dr. Choe's name appeared to have been added as an authorized surgeon. The Hipps' then requested the original consent form, but were allegedly told it was discarded.

In a written statement, Virginia Mason declined to comment on the details of the case, but disagreed with the allegations and plans to defend its position in court. The Hipps's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Daniel Cook

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