September 14th, 2010
01:41 PM ET

Doctor sued for 'branding' patient's uterus

Dr. Red Alinsod is being sued for engraving his patient's name on her uterus.

A California gynecologist is being sued for branding a patient's name on her uterus using an "electrocautery device."

Dr. Red Alinsod removed Ingrid Paulicivic's uterus during an operation at his Orange County office in 2006, according to the complaint posted on The Smoking Gun's website. The Laguna Beach doctor carved "Ingrid" on the organ, according to the site, because he "did not want to get it confused with others."

Alinsod told the site that labeling of body parts in that manner is not typical. But, he said, he "felt comfortable putting her name on the uterus" since the 47-year-old hairdresser was a "good friend."

Paulicivic's attorney, Devan Mullins, told that his client did not know her physician before consulting him for the operation. Paulicivic and her husband learned of the branding during a follow-up visit, the lawyer said.

During that visit, Paulicivic complained to Alinsod about burns to her leg that she suffered during the operation, Mullins told The doctor was looking at images that were taken during the operation, and the couple asked for copies.

"Alinsod hesitated to give them the photos," the attorney said, sparking the couple's suspicion that something was wrong. The doctor told the couple that he didn't know how to copy the images, so the husband, who is a photographer, showed Alinsod how to move the images to a memory card, and the couple took them, Mullins said.

Later in the husband's office, the couple looked at the photos and were shocked to see "Ingrid" spelled out in inch-high letters on her uterus.

"They reacted like anyone would react - 'Oh my God, I cannot believe this happened,' " the lawyer said.

The couple hired Mullins, who tried for 90 days to notify Alinsod of an impending complaint, but the doctor did not react. "That's what's been odd - that we've gotten no response from him whatsoever," Mullins said. spoke with Alinsod's office manager Tuesday, who said that the physician was seeing patients and that he would not comment on the litigation.

According to Alinsod's website, he formerly headed gynecologic services at George Air Force Base in California and Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. He was affectionately called a "Combat Gynecologist" by his colleagues, it says.

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Filed under: Courts • Health Care
soundoff (825 Responses)
  1. Reets

    I had a hysterectomy 8 years ago and I could give a crap about what they did with my uterus. The only thing she has to complain about is the burns on her leg, that would be a legitimate reason for medical malpractice.

    September 15, 2010 at 2:50 am | Report abuse |
  2. Dracula

    Ehhh, the old days...
    Nobody can enjoy a good ole uterus for dinner.
    What's wrong with marking it ?
    Hmmm what should I have tonight : a Ingrid or a Helen.
    I should flip a coin now.



    September 15, 2010 at 3:16 am | Report abuse |
  3. Michael5472

    Apart from any issues pertaining directly to the electrocautery procedure and its aftermath, there does seem to be something worth pursuing in the doctor's behavior towards his patient during her request for follow-up information. This is what I would be asking about if I were on a jury. If what he did is standard, then why did he not tell her that at the time surgery was scheduled? Why did he not reply to her calls or tell her he did not know how to copy photographs of the removed organ? Why did he say he used her first name (instead of, say, a case number or other anonymous identifier) because she was a friend when she has said that she did not know him prior to the surgery? His behavior in this regard is NOT professional and would lead me to conclude that he knew that he had done something improper and was trying to hide the fact. That becomes a case of malpractice, does it not? The whole matter is creepy and merits investigation. The lawsuit is not unfounded. Nor has it been decided yet. The doctor's practice will suffer for it, and the plaintiff will also face ridicule and pubic humiliation. The sick jokes have likely already begun.

    September 15, 2010 at 3:40 am | Report abuse |
  4. Renee

    Those people replying about the idiocy of this woman hit the nail on the head. I am a nurse. I witness people in the hospital everyday shouting "I'm gonna sue you" to someone in the healthcare field. It's ridiculous. I also think doctors and hospitals settle too much. I think we should start fighting back. Yeah, it might cost more in the beginning but maybe then we could set the precedent. Some patients (and their families) come to the hospital to get paid. It's greedy, ignorant and these unjustified lawsuits are why YOUR healthcare is so expensive.

    September 15, 2010 at 4:31 am | Report abuse |
    • My Opinion Only

      It's not just the medical field where people are sue happy. I once had to fire an employee for insubordination and anger management issues, and the first words out of his mouth were "I'm calling my lawyer and suing you." It happens all the time in automobile accidents also.

      I'm not against lawsuits, but too many people have found it to be an easy way of making money. This article simply does not give enough information for the public to be deciding for or against either party involved in the lawsuit.

      September 16, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      I agree with Renee, the nurse. America spends twenty times more per person for health care but gets worse results than Europe, for example. Wake up! Idiotic law suits about a foolproof label on medical waste parts cost Americans so much money that you do not even want to pay for real illness among the poor. Ingrid is abusing the system that cured her from whatever medical problem she had. Live the doctor alone and get on with your life.

      September 16, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Renee

    BTW, the burns on her legs are not medical malpractice. They are a risk of surgery. I'll bet you those risks are listed on the surgical consent she signed.

    September 15, 2010 at 4:34 am | Report abuse |
    • My Opinion Only

      Surgical consent papers have really changed over the years. It used to be a very simple paragraph. Now, every possible surgical complication has to be listed because of the fact that the doctor might get sued.

      Look at the warnings on almost everything you buy now (i.e., warning on a hair dryer–do not use while sleeping [duh], caution on mocrowaved food–may be hot [duh, again]). This used to be common sense, but now there has to be a warning because somebody sued the manufacturer.

      September 16, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. boopie

    hahaha, ...what on Earth do you think he labeled it for? He labeled it so that the pathologists grossing it would not confuse it with any other uterus, which has happened. after removal pathologists receive multiple uterus specimens in a day. What do you think they do with it? They paint it. If it is a total hysterectomy usually the right get painted red, the left gets painted green, the anterior portion get painted orange, the posterior portion black. Then it gets cut up to look for malignancy. The slices show up on the microscope with the staining and the paint to indicate to the pathologist exactly what portion they are looking at. It gets sliced & painted afterward as normal procedure, before its trashed. Who cares about branding after removal?

    September 15, 2010 at 4:46 am | Report abuse |
  7. kiwi

    i can see her having issues with the burns on her legs..might be some to that....but her uterus...nothing really to do there.

    as someone who works on the reeving end of surgical unconventional ad the "branding" is it any different then doctors applying staples, sutures, ink surgical specimens to orient for testing and such?
    sounds to me like the doctor didn't have a good specimen labeling/container in place for the uterus. better it be branded then mixed up with another specimen.

    also the uterus was most likely not thrown right away. usually they are dissected and checked for abnormalities and perhaps tests run on the tissue. it could be a month or two before the specimen is properly disposed of.

    September 15, 2010 at 4:48 am | Report abuse |
  8. ElmoRN

    The woman’s uterus was removed for health reasons; some of the possibilities are excessive bleeding, fibroids, or cancer. We cannot know because it was not reported. The uterus was kept to be sent to pathology for further testing. While tissue removed from the human body to be sent to pathology for testing is usually placed in a sealed, labeled container, it is not uncommon for them to be marked to decrease the chances of being mixed up with others. Also, as another post pointed out, marking landmarks aids in pathology examination. Burning the woman’s name on the uterus with an electrocautery is not procedure, could possibly interfere with the pathology examination, poor judgment, and morbid. But in the long run, his actions were not harmful.

    September 15, 2010 at 5:08 am | Report abuse |
    • ElmoRN

      Burns from the grounding pad of an electrocautery are an understood (generally low) possible risk associated with the use of the device. Burns can be caused by improper sizing of the grounding pad, improper placement/application of a grounding pad (such as poor contact, gaps, folds, bends, or incorrect location), or extended activation time of the device. They may also occur from spills of fluids used during procedures, defects in the pad or electrocautery device, and improper training of surgical personnel.

      September 15, 2010 at 5:19 am | Report abuse |
  9. hemmy

    He is a FREAK, plain and simple.

    September 15, 2010 at 5:15 am | Report abuse |
  10. hemmy

    How would you feel if you had a stillborn baby and the doctor carved a name on it by burning it into the flesh? To keep it from getting mixed up with another one? I guess that is "procedure" as well. This is the same idea. It is horrifying arrogance. He should not be practicing.

    September 15, 2010 at 5:19 am | Report abuse |
    • heathersavann

      I agree he shouldn't be practicing, but there's a big leap from a uterus to a full term stillborn baby. For one thing, the body of the baby would be released to the parents for burial and they would see the branding. Still, it's sick no matter how you look at it.

      September 15, 2010 at 5:36 am | Report abuse |
  11. wmsJax

    He had to label her uterus because he didn't want to confuse it with (her foot or liver). I hope he never operated on some poor innocent military female/patient. What the HELL is a Combat Gynecologist??!! This doctor has gotten sloppy, someone should check into his medical history for other complaints!!! (Formerly headed gynecologic service at a military installation? Poor girls...)

    September 15, 2010 at 5:30 am | Report abuse |
  12. Linette A-C.

    Wow. What a nightmare. This "so called doc" has a very disturbing and very serios issue on his hands. He has got to be stopped. Very disturbing. Combat gynecologist?? Seriously? Is it a joke then?

    September 15, 2010 at 5:32 am | Report abuse |
  13. heathersavann

    Admittedly, it's a bit creepy, but once the uterus was removed it became medical waste. Not like he was gonna put it back inside her. Still, I think he might ought to be subjected to some psychiatric testing. I wonder if he has done this before, or was there something special about Ingrid's uterus? Did they get a search warrant to see if he kept it? Bizarre!

    September 15, 2010 at 5:32 am | Report abuse |
  14. sky

    F..K IT

    September 15, 2010 at 5:58 am | Report abuse |
  15. sky


    September 15, 2010 at 5:59 am | Report abuse |
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