Hurricane couple files medical malpractice suit

By Chris Dickerson | Aug 21, 2008

Wolfer WINFIELD – A Hurricane couple has sued a doctor after they claim she botched a surgery on the wife.

Wolfer

WINFIELD – A Hurricane couple has sued a doctor after they claim she botched a surgery on the wife.

Danielle and Jason Fields filed the lawsuit in June in Putnam Circuit Court against Dr. Rebecca Wolfer and University Physicians and Surgeons Inc.

On April 26, 2006, Wolfer performed surgery on Danielle Fields to remove a thymus gland. The suit says Wolfer closed the incision in Fields' sternum with sternal wires.

Right after surgery, Fields says she experienced pain in her chest. The pain continued for several months, the suit says, "often severe and debilitating." She says the pain limited her from caring for her newborn daughter and toddler daughter.

While still in the hospital, Field says she told Wolfer of the pain. Fields says she was told it was typical. Wolfer did nothing other than give her pain medication, the suit states.

"In fact, in response to one of plaintiff's complaints of pain, Dr. Wolfer yelled at plaintiff and accused her of using her pain to obtain medication," the suit claims.

Two days after surgery, Fields was released and continued treatment on an outpatient basis from Wolfer and University Physicians and Surgeons, where Wolfer works.

Fields says the pain continued, but the defendants did nothing to determine the cause of her pain.

Fields says she then got a second opinion from Dr. Matthew Harris, who had radiographic tests performed in September 2006.

"At that time, plaintiffs first discovered that the cause of her pain (was) due to a medical mistake made during her April 26,2006, surgery, specifically the misplacement of the sternal wires used by Dr. Wolfer," the suit states.

The CT scans showed, according to the complaint, that two sternal wires projected straight up into Fields' subcutaneous tissue, one stopping just barely below the surface of her skin.

Fields says she had corrective treatment done by Dr. John Howington at the University of Cincinnati on Oct. 18, 2006.

"Following the surgery, Ms. Fields' pain associated with the malpositioning of the sternal wires began to resolve," the suit states.

Fields contend the defendants breached the standard of care during her initial surgery and by not being attentive to her after the surgery.

She says she had to endure needless pain, scarring, pustules and infections. She also said she had to go through unnecessary therapy and treatment. She says she couldn't care for her children and had to have others care for her.

"She was unable to pick (her children) up, hold them or show affection to them, including her daughter who was born only weeks before the … surgery," the complaint states. "These limitations caused Ms. Fields to suffer great emotional distress and despair."

The plaintiffs say they suffered financially because of the defendants' negligence. They say they were turned over to credit agencies because of medical bills, had to borrow money from family and withdraw money from a retirement account. Danielle Fields also was unable to work, the suit states.

They seek compensatory damages as well as attorney fees, expenses and other relief.

Richard E. Holtzapfel is representing the couple, and the case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Ed Eagloski.

Putnam Circuit Court case number: 08-C-208

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