"It's another great improvement to the Monon Trail,” said Mayor…
"It's another great improvement to the Monon Trail,” said Mayor…
It's an issue that's come to the surface of many conversations …
An accident on Interstate 70 shut down westbound lanes Thursday…
In one of their most dramatic choices in a century, local …
Friends and family gathered Thursday to remember the life of a …
Updated: Wednesday, 14 Nov 2012, 6:24 AM EST
Published : Tuesday, 13 Nov 2012, 10:39 PM EST
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - An I-Team 8 exclusive investigation has an Indianapolis hospital admitting mistakes in the operating room. We first heard from two women, but we've learned there could be potentially dozens more. They are victims of something left in their bodies they knew nothing about, that has made some of them sick for more than two years.
The two women are both working moms and total strangers. Cassie Dorn is a Certified Nursing Assistant and mother of three. Tammie Barney works for the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce and also has three kids.
Both women had hysterectomies at St. Vincent Women's Hospital. For Barney it was four days after her 40th birthday. For Dorn, diagnosed with breast cancer at age 38, she had two surgeries at once: a double mastectomy and the hysterectomy to prevent ovarian cancer.
When we met them, they were two lives brought together bound by a common thread — a mistake in the operating room during their hysterectomies. Both were left living with pain, bleeding, scar tissue and a bad odor.
"The smell, it smelled like rotting flesh," Dorn said. "It makes you want to curl up somewhere and not let anyone be around you."
"I would leave work and go take showers," Barney said about the smell emanating from her. "It was almost like a dead person."
She even offered to let her now-husband call off the wedding they were planning. She had to deal with the pain and odor on her wedding day describing it as "incredibly" hard.
For Dorn, her child noticed.
"I remember lying on the bed one night," she said. "We were getting ready to watch a show. My 6-year-old comes in there. We are sitting on the bed and he said, ‘Mom what is that smell?’" They blamed the dog. Her child left.
Both say they returned to their gynecologist multiple times. There were questions unanswered again and again until finally both got the same answer.
"Come to find out, two years, stitches were left in me from my surgery back in 2010," she recalled. "She (her doctor) told me there were non-dissolvable sutures that were used."
Turns out the two are not alone getting sutures that don't dissolve. They are two of potentially dozens of women. I-Team 8 obtained a medical document in which the doctor writes that the hospital would issue a "letter regarding hospital substitution of suture later found to be permanent (46 cases, past 2 years, different doctors)."
"Well, I never got a letter but I started to call them," Barney said about her pursuit to find out what happened. She says she finally got a meeting with top hospital administrators.
"They did confirm there was another 40 some odd patients and I'd be receiving a letter as to how St. Vincent's was going to make good on this, but they needed to identify all those patients first," Barney said of her conversation with hospital administrators.
She went on to say: "And those patients could have had a range of surgeries. Not all of them were necessarily hysterectomies. But I never got that (letter)."
A spokesperson for St. Vincent Hospital said in a statement the mistakes were only made in hysterectomies.
Dorn says she never got a letter either.
She worries about others who may not have gotten a letter either.
"There are more women out there who have not been notified and they need to know about it," Dorn said. "Just for their own health."
"Has the hospital been honest with them?" Barney wonders. "How many of us are there?"
How could something like this happen? I-Team 8 took the question to Chicago to one of the country’s top teaching hospitals and a leading expert.
Dr. Jessica Shepherd is the director of Minimally Invasive Gynecology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. We asked her to show us the difference between permanent and absorbable sutures.
SHEPHERD | Read more about Shepherd's background
Dr. Shepherd says while some sutures can look and feel different, others are more similar.
"They have the same color and they kind of have the same feel," Dr. Shepherd said while displaying a range of sutures.
I-Team 8 asked if there is a color coding difference between sutures that are absorbable and permanent.
"I wish there were because that would make it so much easier," Dr. Shepherd responded.
Then we questioned how doctors would be able to tell the difference between permanent and absorbable sutures in most operating rooms.
"The difference is by looking at the package," Dr. Shepherd said. "What did my suture come out of?"
Dr. Shepherd says hospitals need to have systems in place to make sure the right sutures are used.
Dorn and Barney hope that by sharing the very personal details of what happened to them, others won't have to go through it.
Dorn said she wants to see "the right women get notified and that the hospital double-checks and re-checks and makes sure they do their job correctly."
Barney has been dealing with the pain for a long time.
"Now it has been 2 1/2 years," she said. "Quite honestly, I have accepted it is probably something I am going to have to deal
with for the rest of my life."
I-Team 8 requested St. Vincent Hospital provide an on-camera interview, to see a copy of the letter allegedly sent out and the total number of patients affected.
What we received was a statement: "As a faith-based hospital, we are committed to delivering quality care to our patients and families. We determined that non-absorbable sutures were used during a limited number of total laparoscopic hysterectomies performed at St.Vincent Women's Hospital. Our hospital takes this situation very seriously. We have been working with patients individually to address their concerns, and have offered removal of the sutures at no cost. We apologize for any concern this caused our patients and their families, and have implemented processes to improve our systems."
We also asked for documentation of what changes were made to the system and how the mistake happened. That request was also denied.
Both women went to other facilities to have the sutures removed.
The attorney for the two women, Jason Reese, has filed for a class action lawsuit to include any other women who had surgery between 2008 and 2010. Click here to take a look at the class action lawsuit.