Saturday, January 25, 2003

Woman says doctor carved 'UK' during surgery

The Associated Press

LEXINGTON - A Fayette County woman is suing her doctor, saying he carved the letters "UK" into her uterus before it was removed during a hysterectomy.

Stephanie Means and her husband, David, filed the suit Wednesday in Fayette County Circuit Court, saying the incident caused them emotional distress.

"This is bizarre, I've never seen anything like this," said the couple's attorney, Michael Dean, who specializes in personal injury and medical malpractice cases.

Mrs. Means underwent a hysterectomy Aug. 14 at Central Baptist Hospital in Lexington, in which her entire uterus was removed. In the lawsuit, Mrs. Means claims that University of Kentucky graduate and Lexington doctor James M. Guiler used a cauterizing instrument to intentionally brand 4- to 5-centimeter letters - "UK" - on Mrs. Means' uterus. Mrs. Means also says that Dr. Guiler videotaped the entire surgery, including the branding, and then presented the tape to the couple.

Messages left at Dr. Guiler's office were not immediately returned Friday.

Mrs. Means says she suffered emotional distress after viewing the videotape. Mr. Means claims he suffered emotional distress and a loss of companionship with his wife after the incident. The couple is seeking a trial and punitive damages.

Mr. Dean, who has seen the videotape, said the video was "pretty graphic," and "clearly showed the incident." Dr. Guiler allegedly carved the initials on the uterus while Mrs. Means was still under anesthesia.

Mr. Dean said his office sent a certified letter to Dr. Guiler on Nov. 26, asking why the branding was done. Dr. Guiler did not respond to the letter, prompting the couple to file suit.

Mr. Dean said Friday that he was currently meeting with an eastern Kentucky woman, who claims Dr. Guiler did the same thing to her after undergoing a hysterectomy. It's possible the woman, who also has a videotape of the procedure, may join the Means' lawsuit or file a separate suit, Mr. Dean said.

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