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. Jim

    These people are idiots.
    Their so shocked and offended they simply must use this opportunity to make as much money as possible from a doctor who was HELPING THEM!.

    September 16, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. nikki polk

    this is just sick and the doctor should be stripped of his license !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! this is why i only go to female obgyns !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 16, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ryan

    "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."

    I think that right there says it all as to the reason why he labeled it. Military put their names on everything, including labeling for organizational purposes. If this is his standard practice, and he does this with all of his patient's uterus' then I'd say he's done nothing wrong. I am sure if he practiced in a different area that required removal of another body part, he'd probably put their names on that as well. It's the same as dog tags to identify the person or body.

    September 16, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • My Opinion Only

      I would like to know what the sentence about affectionally being called a "Combat Gynecologist" is supposed to mean. What is a combat gynecologist and why would it be a term of affection by colleagues?

      September 16, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • whitfang

      I assume it's a mild joke, because there would never be a need for a GYN in combat. Go somewhere and buy a sense of humor! Oh wait. By the time you explain a joke's punchline to a humorless person, it is too late.

      September 18, 2010 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
  4. liz

    Does she even have any proof that the burns happened during surgery? Why didn't she complain about them before she left for home? Maybe they happened at home and she is blaming the doctor to get a quick buck. As for the "branding", is she serious?!! Really, some people!!! No wonder our health care costs a fortune!

    September 16, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Lisa

    Sounds like she just wants some quick cash.

    September 16, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. maddex

    It's not like he put her address and social security number on it and auctioned it on Ebay. The very reason he did it is probably just as he said to avoid confusion. Many specimens and body parts are sent for biopsies after surgery. They are bagged and labeled but in a big lab mistakes happen. I would rather have opt for safety than find out too late that my cancerous tumor was missed due to a mix up.

    September 16, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bunny

    The only problem I see here regarding the uterus is the doctor's alleged claim that he and the patient were close friends. As far as the organ's being medical waste is concerned, it would only be discarded after being sent to the lab for tests to ensure that there's no evidence of cancer or other conditions – that's why it was branded. I don't know if this is standard practice everywhere, but it's certainly not unusual. I can't believe this is an issue.

    Now, the burns on the patient's leg are a different matter. If they really happened during surgery, there's a problem. I had two small friction burns on my leg once after a procedure because I experienced distress that required that I be moved quickly with cloth straps, but the first thing my surgeon did when I woke was to explain what had happened. If this is what happened with her, she should have been informed immediately.

    September 16, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Guest

    She wouldn't have had her uterus removed unless she wanted it removed. All I'm wondering is if she knows what happens.

    September 16, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Wowwww

    thanks law for

    @KED, @lawyers are very very very bad: The tort of battery (which is different from the tort of negligence – the common medical malpractice tort) can be alleged if a harmful or OFFENSIVE touching occurs, even if there is no physical injury to the victim. An offensive contact is one that is "offending a reasonable sense of personal dignity". This is clearly offensive to the victim, the question of law would be if a reasonable person would find that the doctor should have known this would be offensive. Harm is not required. The victim does not need to be aware of the touching as it occurs

    so true. as little as it matters on the outside of the situation, people still have their basic rights. I should have the right to know the doctor im trusting to operate on my body isnt going to have a picasso moment.
    I dont think I'd appreciate someone doing anything to my body that I didnt consent to. And I believe our rights still protect that.

    September 16, 2010 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. DragonTat2

    Since when are hysterectomies done outside a hospital operating room?

    September 17, 2010 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |
  11. mattmchugh

    Several cases like this have come to light before. Surgeons routinely mark internal suture locations with a unique "brand" - names or initials are common - to help locate them if there are any subsequent healing problems. It's a complete non-issue.

    Actually, in this case, as it's a removal, it's an every bigger non-issue. Practice, precedent, and simple logic all show there is absolutely NO CASE WHATSOEVER here. The attorney who filed this suit should be reprimanded.

    - mm

    September 17, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. simplicityjones

    She had a surgical proceedure. The electric Cautery is a normal part of the proceedure. It is used to burn small bleeders or arteries. He did not use any equipment that was out of the unusual. She most likely would had received burns whether he etched her name into the removed uterus or not. The burns occur from poor grounding or sensativity to the adhesive on the grounding sensor. Many people get burns during surgery from the tape, or lying in one position too long or a plethora of reasons. Without seeing the burns it is hard to determine their cause. So, she received burns was the complaint. Unfortunately this is a possible complication of the proceedure. No surgical proceedure is without risks. This is just a case of another person trying to make a dollar at a doctor's malpractice nsurance expense.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bryn

    I honestly don't understand the problem. I had a hysterectomy and if the doctor had decided to carve my first name on it and wear it as a hat – I wouldn't have cared! What a relief it was no longer in my body...

    September 17, 2010 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mel

      HA! You shouldn't have shared this idea so freely ... It will be all over the Paris runway next season, and you won't get credit.

      September 23, 2010 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. veterinarian

    A surgeon can't exactly grab a sharpie or post-it note to label something...it would break sterility. Seems a harmless way of labeling tissue (unless the cautery damaged/burned cells that were going to pathology to be analyzed for cancerous or otherwise abnormal tissue.) I believe it is in every doctor's best interest to treat tissue, attached or not, respectfully, but for all we know, he was labeling the uterus to ensure proper diagnostics would be performed on it. Burns to the woman's legs is a different matter...there is NO reason her leg should have been burned during a hysterectomy. Even the skin on her abdomen shouldn't be burned since cautery shouldn't be used on skin.

    September 17, 2010 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. john

    when I had my penis tatooed there was risk of infection, but a detatched organ? get real who cares?

    September 18, 2010 at 3:39 am | Report abuse |
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