6:30 pm - 11/19/2008

Can I sue my doctors office for lying like this?

 I went in for an HPV test and pap smear and days later my gynecologists nurse flat out left me a voicemail that said I had an abnormal pap smear. 

Next time I came into the office they informed me that I was positive for HPV (human pappiloma virus) and informed me in person that my pap smear was abnormal. This put me into panic, so I soon after and made an appointment to get a colposcopy ( a invasive painful procedure ) and had that done. They then told me from the results from the colposcopy that I was going to have to end up getting my cervix frozen. I scheduled for getting my cervix frozen but left the office. 

I sought out another doctor because I sensed this was extreme and wanted a 2nd opinion.

Two other doctors saw my test results, and have said that my pap smear was normal, in my papers. So why would the original nurse lie and say it was abnormal, and even the original doctor said it was abnormal and should be treated?


Can I or should I sue for mental anguish?

Any females familiar with this ..please help.

Is it normal to do a colposcopy after a positive HPV test?

This was about 9 months ago and I have had follow up pap tests done, and the results were perfectly normal.
ticklemepiink 19th-Nov-2008 11:46 pm (UTC)
It depends what kind of HPV you have, low risk of high risk. High risk HPV usually involves a colposcopy, depending on the levels of abnormalities. However, I had the colposcopy done and the doctors office said as a follow up I should just have paps every six months instead of every year. It's frustrating that your doctor and his nurse are not explaining to you in depth as to why you need to have your cervix frozen. It isn't exactly normal to have it done immediately, usually doctors wait and see. And had the other doctors said they'd seen abnormalities, I'd think it was less odd... but because they said it's normal, I think they were trying to get some money out of you. You probably could sue... but I don't know if you'd have a case because the doctor is a doctor...alone. But definitely change doctors!! I'm sorry. :( And get a pap from a new doctor and make sure it's really not abnormal!
sparksdelcielo 19th-Nov-2008 11:49 pm (UTC)
I think you can probably try to sue for anything you want if you have the money. Most of us don't. However, a more productive line of action would be to report this doctor to your local medical license board, fill out the necessary paperwork, and suggest that they investigate the doctor. However, you went to the doctor to solicit his/her opinion and s/he gave it to you. It doesn't sound like you were in any physical harm or paid unjustifiable medical costs. Just something really annoying that you were smart enough to question and get other opinions.
uptown_villa106 19th-Nov-2008 11:53 pm (UTC)
thank you for the advice.. this is a lesson learned.. doctors are not perfect , yet you trust them, and they sadly make you do unnecessary tests/procedures to get money
sparksdelcielo 19th-Nov-2008 11:57 pm (UTC)
You're totally welcome. Hope everything turns out okay! Search the archives for more information about HPV if you have time, information always makes me feel better and helps me stand up for myself with doctors. While with many medical conditions there are a set number of options, it helps to know what those options are and the seriousness (or lack of) so that you can work with the doctor for the best treatment (or lack of) for you. Good luck. :-)
archangelbeth 20th-Nov-2008 12:02 am (UTC)
You may also want to tell your insurance company that this doctor was either incompetent or trying to get extra money out of them. Being dropped from an insurance company's list of "people we pay"... would not be good for a doctor.

Edit: Though before you do this, I'd follow atalanta0jess' advice, below. Still, keep it in mind...

Edited at 2008-11-20 12:03 am (UTC)
darness 19th-Nov-2008 11:53 pm (UTC)
I'm happy you got a second opinion! Instead of attributing the worst to your first doctor, could it be that the two doctors reviewed the same results and interpreted it differently? It's quite possible they're not lying, they either made a mistake or just interpreted the results differently than the second doctor did.

This may affect whether you want to go back to the original doctor in the future, but I'm not sure if it qualifies as sue-able. I'm neither a doctor nor a lawyer, though.
atalanta0jess 19th-Nov-2008 11:57 pm (UTC)
I agree that you can sue for anything, if you've got the money. It will most likely be expensive to do though...so unless you can afford to lose money in the process (like, if you don't win) then I would avoid it.

I think that what you should do is get a bit more information. Make an appointment to discuss the results with your original doctor, and ask them to provide you with a copy of your file. If in fact the set of results they were discussing were normal, I'd definitely ask them why they called you in for a colpo. It may be that there is just some confusion that needs to be cleared up (e.g. maybe the second doctor was looking at the wrong file, wrong test, something like that.)

It can be normal to do a colpo after an abnormal pap. However, a positive HPV test in the absense of an abnormal pap isn't reason to do a colpo, as far as I know. Since a normal pap means there is no evidence of abnormal cells, I'm not really sure what they'd be looking for...plus its an expensive procedure to be doing "just in case." (Although just for the sake of others reading - I personally didn't find my colposcopy to be invasive or painful...I actually thought it was a pretty easy thing to endure. Obviously there's a wide range of experiences there :) )
shyshutterbug 20th-Nov-2008 04:44 am (UTC)
IAWTC.

OP, while I agree this is supremely crappy and beyond inconvenient, I highly doubt it's a "sueable" offense - or at least, a "winnable" offense.

At your second opinion appointment, did they review your previous records from the original office, or did they perform another pap smear and interpret those results? If it's the latter, then it's conceivable whatever abnormal cells were there had completely cleared in the interim, or that it's the lab that screwed your test up, not the doctor. If it's the former...well, working in a medical office myself, the only thing I can really suspect is that either the vial your pap was in was mislabeled with another woman's name, or that another woman's pap was inadvertently sent out with your information, and the lab didn't double-check whose pap they were looking at. (Lesson learned, gyno-employee n00bs...always label the patient's pap before she's seen!)

I think it merits investigation, without a doubt. But before you go running to a lawyer or the medical licensure board, I'd do a little more homework in figuring out where the error was. If it indeed lies with the doctor's office, I'd go to your area's department of health and report the issue. Greed is widespread in the medical profession anymore. But deliberately and blatantly misinforming a patient of her test results as a means to that end? Not so much.

Edited at 2008-11-20 04:47 am (UTC)
shyshutterbug 20th-Nov-2008 04:51 am (UTC)
Because I've given my original comment enough edits thankyouverymuch...

As far as your question on the appropriateness of the procedure: For an abnormal pap with positive HPV, it's absolutely protocol; for a normal pap with a positive HPV test, I don't see the need for such a procedure. Colposcopy is all about taking a closer look at cellular changes in the cervix; if HPV is not changing anything that merits an abnormal pap, a colpo strikes me as a waste of time.
pvalov_rings 20th-Nov-2008 12:22 am (UTC)
I'm really sorry you had a bad experience, and suggesting you should have your cervix frozen does sound extreme to me. But it does not seem sue-able. I think the impulse to sue for everything is a huge problem in our society.
I don't know about the colposcopy results, but I know that sometimes pap smears can turn out abnormal for a lot of reasons, like if you had sex or used lube that day and it confused the results. And sometimes even if cells are abnormal, they clear up on their own. These might be some reasons the other doctors didn't find anything wrong. While I think everyone should expect top healthcare, it sounds to me like it could have been a lot worse--they could have accidentally sterilized you, or they could have been really judgmental of your sexual activity and refused to treat you, etc. That's why it does seem a better route to me to just report them to the medical licensing board, which I think generally takes reports pretty seriously.
bucjo 20th-Nov-2008 12:29 am (UTC)
Sueing is not the going to change anything is it? Is money really going to make you feel any better? I'm glad I come from a country where you cannot sue for things like this.

In a 2 year period I had a total of 5 smear tests and 2 colposcopies, the 2nd has come out clear but I still have to have smear tests every year from now on because I am high risk. I would rather have the checks then find out 9 years down the track they didn't think it was worth checking and I now have evasive cancer.

But then again, I also come from a country with a relatively free and low cost public health system. I had an awful experience with my first colposcopy too where I was never told what was going on, the 2nd one a year later I had the most amazing specialist who put all my fears to rest.

We're not always right, in our own lives and our own jobs, we're human. Maybe there was an error but really, I've made errors in my jobs which resulted in people being evicted from their flats or suffer penalties for debts, that's what happens. We are not of perfect design.
wenchlette 20th-Nov-2008 12:45 am (UTC)
Why do people automatically go to sue people?

Are you hurt or otherwise disabled by what happened?
asunlitrose 20th-Nov-2008 01:25 am (UTC)
Because they did a painful and unnecessary medical procedure on her? I think it's best here to help the OP, not shame her or judge her for being upset and emotional about this.

Edit: Oh wait, I see that the OP never had the procedure performed. At any rate, I still think helping is better than judging, even if we disagree with someone, you know?

Edited at 2008-11-20 01:27 am (UTC)
marionravenwood 20th-Nov-2008 10:08 am (UTC)
Well, it does sound like she had an unnecessary colposcopy.
jasper17 20th-Nov-2008 12:59 am (UTC)
I guess I would say that it's possible the first doctor/ nurse were not lying but actually had inaccurate results from a bad test or something like that. I had that happen two years ago - went in for a pap, got a call a few weeks later that the results were abnormal and they wanted to do a colposcopy. Rather than do that, though, I just went to a different doctor and got a second opinion, which turned out to be negative, and another negative earlier this year. Personally, I don't view it as something to sue over but it you're really uncomfortable with the way things went down, it might be worthwhile to file a complaint.
yumcheesy 20th-Nov-2008 01:10 am (UTC)
i think most commenters are avoiding the fact that doctor #1 wanted to FREEZE YOUR CERVEX FOR NO REAL REASON!! HELLOOOOO, PEOPLE!! what if you hadn't gotton another opinion?! it doesn't matter that it /didn't/ happen- it COULD happen to another innocent girl just as easily! *OUCH*
I absolutely understand your anger and frustration, they practically tried to kill you! if it were me i'd be terrified to go to any other gyno after that and if i had the $ i would file a malpractice suit, and at the very least i would write about my experience everywhere i could on the internet to warn other girls to not go there :-(
atalanta0jess 20th-Nov-2008 01:22 am (UTC)
"they practically tried to kill you!"

You know, I don't trust any doctor further than I can throw them. HOWEVER. To say that her doc practically tried to kill her is just a completely gross overstatement. No reason to be dramatic. It sucks that we can't trust doctors...but honestly it doesn't sound like the OP actually has a whole lot of information here. She hasn't laid eyes on her actual test results, from what I can tell. She's got two doctors with dissenting opinions. That'll happen. Medicine is hugely influenced by individual opinions, sadly (but necessarily, I think). I honestly don't see that there's a whole lot of evidence that the first doctor was guilty of some kind of misconduct. They MAY have been...but at this point, based on the info we have, its hard to say.

It is true that some doctors are very quick to go with very invasive treatments, and I hate that. I hate that the medical professionals we PAY to take care of us often cannot be trusted.

But no one tried to kill anyone.
bezsmertni 20th-Nov-2008 01:30 am (UTC)
They weren't going to "freeze her cervix." They were going to freeze some CELLS. Yes, it would have been ridiculous and awful for her to go through cryotherapy if there is in fact nothing wrong with her, but they weren't doing some sort of scary medical procedure. HPV treatments are NOT that bad. Tons of VP users have gone through them, and I don't want any who have yet to do so to have unneeded panic attacks because they think they're going to be killed.
darness 20th-Nov-2008 02:48 am (UTC)
She didn't get the procedure done. She got a second opinion. I think its a stretch to file suit for something that MIGHT have happened but didn't.
zanylikethat 20th-Nov-2008 03:23 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry, but have you ever had a cryo treatment? I have, because I had an abnormal pap and tested positive for HPV, just like the OP.

It's a quick (approximately half hour) procedure, not particularly invasive, and you feel basically NOTHING. Practically tried to kill her? I'm sorry, but that is a completely inappropriate thing to say. A LOT of women get cryo treatments and many more on this community will continue to do so; this is not a helpful attitude toward to have toward a VERY helpful treatment, and it will certainly not be of any assistance to all the rest of the women here who will need this procedure.

That said, to the OP: abnormal paps actually do often clear up on their own. Any number of things can cause an abnormal pap, but because it was coupled with a positive on the HPV, they probably decided that moving forward with cryo therapy was a good plan in order to nip things in the bud before it got to the point of being potentially dangerous. Yes, there was always a chance that it would clear up on its own. Of course, there was also the chance that it would turn into cancer. So, it is completely possible that your abnormal pap cleared up between your original smear and your visit to another doctor.

As shyshutterbug already pointed out: "Colposcopy is all about taking a closer look at cellular changes in the cervix."

Basically, the idea is to get rid of the current abnormal cells and monitor for any further change to make sure nothing happens.

When I had my string of procedures done due to an abnormal pap and positive HPV, when they first took a tissue sample to see what was going on, they were VERY concerned because my cells were, in short, spazzing out and going abnormal fast and ferociously. I had the cryo treatment done, and afterwards, everything returned to normal equally as fast and ferociously. They ultimately decided that most likely, my body would've straightened everything out on its own. Personally, I'm glad I had the treatment because I find 30 minutes in the stirrups staring at the ceiling to be WAY better than cervical cancer. However, to each their own.

Basically, OP: you got a second opinion that you liked better. I don't think suing is necessary, and, as many have pointed out, it's unlikely that you would win, and it would require a lot of money. Commenter: Please, please, PLEASE do not go around referring to getting cryo treatment as freezing the cervix, because it is simply freezing some cells. It is not "trying to kill" anyone. It is a relatively painless, simple procedure that helps a lot of people, and misinformation about it is not helpful.
orangecrush1189 20th-Nov-2008 01:24 am (UTC)
Suing seems a little excessive. I'd definitely alert the necessary people to their mistake, but don't sue them. Just don't go there anymore.
bezsmertni 20th-Nov-2008 01:26 am (UTC)
Please get a copy of your file or talk to someone who will actually tell you what, if anything, is going on in your body. While it isn't typical to do a freezing procedure immediately after an HPV diagnosis, it's an option that my doctor gave me after my colpo (which wasn't, as far as things go, that invasive or painful).

Do you have HPV? What did they say your colpo results were?

I would figure your results out before trying to sue anybody. Trust me, I know what kind of panic diagnoses like this can cause, but the most important lesson you can learn from this is to be more involved with your health, and always ask for clearer explanations of what is going on.

Good luck!
meximanian 20th-Nov-2008 02:02 am (UTC)
In order to win a medical mal (which would be very expensive but many lawyers work on a contingency fee) you have to prove that what the Dr did was not what other doctor's would do. I think if you had had the cells frozen and then realize that he misread the chart and it was unnecessary then you would have a stronger case. As it is, you (thankfully) got a 2nd opinion, so the first doctor didn't really "do" anything negligent other than having a bad nurse and poor test reading comprehension. You really can only win if there's been a real injury. Your injury is more emotional and that has an entire different set of standards etc. I agree w/others that you should report him. And if you do want to sue (which is your right to do) I would see a lawyer that has a free consultation to see what they think of your case.


in_a_fairy_tale 20th-Nov-2008 02:21 am (UTC)
A lot of people are saying "we can't trust doctors" like this woman (man?) was purposely trying to hurt you. I don't think this was the case at all. I have certainly seen my fair share of irresponsible doctors who do irresponsible things--like the one who put me on twice the recommend dose of Lexapro for three years and nearly put me into liver failure. But is she a bad person who was purposely out to get me? Unlikely. As a pre-med student, I sympathize with the fact that medicine, despite what they want you to believe, isn't always an exact science, and mistakes are made. I wouldn't call what they did "lying" as much as a mistake. The nurse who called you probably didn't have the training or the authority to override the doctor's judgment, anyway.

Can you sue for this? Probably. Either way, it is malpractice. You could at least sue to get your money back that you spent on unnecessary procedures. Should you take it further and try to become a millionaire from it? Probably not. At the end of the day, they didn't harm you THAT much. I think lawsuits like that should be reserved for cases in which a patient is permanently harmed and won't be able to work any longer, therefore needing the large sum of money. Anything else feels like an abuse of the legal system.
atalanta0jess 20th-Nov-2008 06:45 pm (UTC)
Oh, thanks for mentioning this. Because I did say I don't trust doctors - but I didn't mean I think they are malicious or intend to hurt us. I definitely don't think that. I do think that often they do things that are not supported by evidence, fail to give us important information, get their facts confused, or are quick to apply some kind of treatment to something that doesn't really need treating. I don't think they're bad people, I just think that we as patients have to be very very cautious and keep ourselves super informed.
jeg_elskerdeg 20th-Nov-2008 02:47 am (UTC)
Always, always, always get a second opinion before having a procedure done :D
grace_is_gone 20th-Nov-2008 03:15 am (UTC)
A colpo after a positive HPV test is absolutely normal. I've had two after abnormal pap smears, and this year, they tested for HPV and I came back positive. I'm going back for my third colpo in three years, and we'll go from there as far as determining whether cryotherapy is necessary or not.

The last two colpos, the doctor did make sure to tell me that cryotherapy was a possibility depending upon what the results of the testing was. However, my colpos came back fine, and there was no cryotherapy. The doctor's decision was to follow up with another pap in a year, as normal, and reassess.

After reading what I just wrote, I wonder if the docs that said your pap was normal meant that your colposcopy results were negative for high risk strains of HPV, rather than that your pap was entirely normal. There may have been some terminology confusion....

In any event, I think it's definitely worth sitting down with your gyne and discussing. He/She should be able to show you results from the lab that will support the decision to do the colposcopy. I truthfully do not, however, think it's worth suing over. There's no negligence, nothing that shortens your life, nothing that occurred that was outside the doctor's scope of practice or outside a reasonable treatment course... I don't know that there's much of a malpractice suit there, truthfully.
marionravenwood 20th-Nov-2008 10:12 am (UTC)
A colpo after a positive HPV test is absolutely normal.

A colpo after a positive HPV test but a normal pap test isn't normal, as far as I know. After an abnormal pap and a positive HPV test, yes.
hallwayjulie 20th-Nov-2008 05:19 pm (UTC)
Did you get a second opinion regarding your test results from the first pap smear? Or did you go to a second doctor to get another pap done?

If you got another pap after your colposcopy, how much time was between the two paps? It's possible enough time had passed for the virus to clear.

I don't think you have any cause to sue, and I don't think you'd win.
so_says_ali 20th-Nov-2008 09:42 pm (UTC)
Your situation sucks, but no harm came from it. You got a second opinion and discovered your first doctor was wrong. Again, it sucks, but you are still alive and you are healthy.

This is not meant to sound douchey, but our litigious society is why medical care is so expensive. If we couldn't sue for whatever reason we thought was valid, malpractice insurance wouldn't be so costly and doctors wouldn't have to pass the costs on to us.

Malpractice suits are for people who had a healthy limb amputated because a doctor wasn't paying attention. Or for people whose doctors leave clamps inside them after surgery. Or for people who were paralyzed after a chiropractic adjustment severed their spinal cord. Suits are for people who will be affected by their doctor's mistakes for the rest of their lives. Consider yourself lucky that you had a good enough head on your shoulders to get that second opinion before you had the procedure. Many people don't have a second chance.

Unfortunately, Paps aren't perfect. Neither are doctors. I doubt it was a malicious lie. It sounds more like a mistake, to be honest.
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