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 CNN.com 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 CNN.com. 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.

CNN.com 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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soundoff (825 Responses)
  1. HERS Foundation

    The uterus also give women cardiovascular protection. When the uterus is removed women have a 3X greater incidence of heart disease, and when the ovaries are removed the incidence of heart disease is 7X greater than it is in women with intact organs.

    September 15, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. HERS Foundation

    Watch the short video "Female Anatomy: the Lifelong Functions of the Female Organs" at http://www.hersfoundation.org/anatomy, then post a comment about how it affected your thinking about hysterectomy, including the lack of respect for women and their bodies by branding a woman's uterus.

    September 15, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Zoe

    Remember we all came from a womb or uterus and it is a beautiful organ...thus the womb envy. The womb is very important to a womans health..please educate yourself. It was amputated from a woman, a person.

    .http://www.hersfoundation.com/anatomy/index.html

    September 15, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Zoe

    We all come from the womb or uterus, a beautiful organ. It is personal...from a person. Once the uterus is amputated, a woman's health is lost forever.

    September 15, 2010 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kim

    I am a medical student, and was required to identify a uterus one time, which was presented solely on a table. During anatomy lab exams, students have to go around tables that have only 1 organ laying on it, and identify it. He could have also branded her name to study it further, or to show it as an example of the pathology to students.

    September 16, 2010 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
  6. Kim

    dr

    September 16, 2010 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
  7. penny

    I had my uterus taken out and I know how it feels to be upset. These people are upset that they cannot have anymore children and to find out somebody who you put your 100% trust in betrayed you. Its a feeling you just cannot forget and forgive. That doctor cut her open and took something from these good people and engraved her name on it so he wouldn't forget who it belongs to. I think the doctor has some mental issue going on and his license should be pulled before he does this to some one else. One day some one might end up dead. I feel for those people and i pray for them.

    September 16, 2010 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
  8. Katie

    I only read a few comments on this story and wanted to put my opinion in the mix. First thing I would like to do is give a tid bit of information; during world war II the nazis used to similar things to jewish women, they of course did their number instead of a name. So I mean to me it is disturbing that no one finds this inappropriate. Also it is not his uterus to write on, I know that sounds stupid but there is no other way to say it. Even if he did it after he took it out and it was just going to be thrown out it doesn't matter, and I think he abused the trust that this woman put into him; she trusted him to make the right decision and do take the right actions and by him deciding on his own to write on her organ without consulting her is unethical and inappropriate end of story. I think she should sue, I would. I also think that the doctor should be reprimanded in some other fashion or at least get evaluated to see as to what would cause him to write on an organ in the first place and why he felt it was ok to do.

    September 16, 2010 at 3:28 am | Report abuse |
  9. April

    As a woman, reading this article along with the comments, several feel that's its no big deal, or reading the news report wrong. If there are burns on her body, one could deduce that there was potential malpractice right there. She shouldn't have had any type of burns outside her body. Regardless of what actually happened to her uterus, the burns are the issue. I don't want my obgyn or surgeon goofing around with a soldering iron while I'm undergoing major surgery.

    September 16, 2010 at 3:53 am | Report abuse |
  10. Liz

    Everyone keeps going back and forth about if the branding occurred after the operation, then it shouldn't be a big deal. HOWEVER: the article clearly states that the couple discovered the branding after looking at photos taken DURING the operation. If I saw a picture of me under anesthesia, hooked up to tubes and machines, cut open in the middle of an operation while a doctor wastes time practicing his cautery technique, I'd be upset too. This is clearly out of the scope of a normal hysterectomy and combined with the burns on her legs could show negligence. His branding of her uterus during the procedure was medically unneccessary, did not take into account the patient's best interests which would be to finish the operation as quickly as possible and get her closed up and into recovery, and possibly resulted in physical injury. Then to finish it off, he completely avoided talking to the couple about the incident and refused to call them back or answer their questions. Sometimes litigation is the only way to force someone to come to the table and say what actually happened.

    September 16, 2010 at 7:25 am | Report abuse |
  11. cassandra

    I've worked as a pathologists' assistant for 10 years at a large hospital, and switched specimens, while rare and very tragic, do happen and this could be why the patient's name was written on the uterus. I have seen organs labeled before and think nothing about it - either with the person's last name for identification or with orientation so that when we gross the organ, we know exactly how to distinguish between anterior/posterior, etc. It's not every organ we receive, but this isn't the first time I've seen this. Our path lab receives up to 15 hysterectomy cases, and if you've ever been a doc whose been a victim of organs being mixed up by a pathology lab (especially if you've had to tell a person they had uterine cancer, only to find out later they did and it metastasized due to a mix up) , I think you'd be a little more cautious, too.

    September 16, 2010 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |
  12. n506

    So....what if she didn't really need a hysterectomy and he was harvesting her organs to sell for private researchers or something? Branding her name on the uterus would make sure it went to the correct buyer. I would be curious if he wouldn't answer their questions or if he played dumb about how to transfer photos onto a portable drive (didn';t want them to have the photos). I hope that officials investigate this further.

    September 16, 2010 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
  13. XenoDragon

    "Hey honey, your uterus has your name written on it."
    "Wow, there's some easy money. Let's sue the doctor!"

    September 16, 2010 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
  14. Doctor B

    I haven't read all of the replies (tl;dr), so forgive me if this has been mentioned, but I wanted to bring up the real reason for "branding" the uterus. When any tissue is removed from the body, it is sent to pathology for analysis. In order to do this properly, the tissue has to be labeled or marked on 2 surfaces or in 2 directions, in order to allow the pathologist to know how the tissue was oriented in the body prior to removal. Typically, this is done with the cautery knife, since it's already in the doctors hands. By actually writing a word (or random letters, or numbers, or a symbol with an obvious right vs left side), you give the needed 2 points to orient the tissue. This is so the pathologist can tell a surgeon where to go back and operate if cancer is detected on the outer surface of the tissue sample. Now, using the patient's name is probably in poor taste, but other doctors have been sued for using other labeling methods.

    September 16, 2010 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  15. Aye Right

    This is clearly modern art.

    September 16, 2010 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
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