Dana A., age 39, went to a Philadelphia Planned Parenthood in February of 2003 to have her contraceptive implant rods removed by Dr. Joel Lebed. According to her lawsuit, Lebed was "inexperienced" in removing the rods, and made several painful attempts to do the procedure. He "gave up after a lot of pain and tears," said Dana's attorney, and another PP doctor, Janet Wilson, finished the job.
The removal left Dana debilitated by pain which began in her arm and spread to the entire left side of her body. She was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome (RPS), a chronic pain condition. Surgery to attempt to correct the problem turned out to have been unnecessary and only made Dana's condition worse.
An article in the July, 2006 issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, titled "Nerve injury caused by removal of an implantable hormonal contraceptive" warns of the risk of nerve damage:
Implanon (a brand of contraceptive implant rods) insertion and removal are relatively uncomplicated procedures in the hands of medical professionals familiar with the technique. However, injury to branches of the medial antebrachial cutaneous nerve during Implanon insertion and removal can result in impaired sensibility, severe localized pain, or the formation of painful neuroma that can be quite devastating to the patient.
In the event that an injury to the nerve is recognized, immediate plastic surgical measures should be undertaken to avoid displeasing sequels of nerve injuries. Therefore, the benefit of this generally well-tolerated, highly effective, and relatively cost-efficient contraception is guaranteed only in the hands of medical professionals familiar with the technique.
I know of one other lawsuit against Lebed. Colista G., age 38, of Philadelphia, alleged that she had gone to Lebed complaining of minor spotting and a late menses, and told Lebed she suspected pregnancy. Lebed did not conduct a pregnancy test. He conducted a pelvic examination, and told Colista she was not pregnant, but had benign polyps in her uterus. Lebed performed a uterine scraping to remove the polyps. It turned out that Colista had indeed been pregnant, and the procedure Lebed performed killed her fetus. Since benign polyps are not an emergency situation, Lebed was negligent in not ascertaining whether or not she Colista pregnant before proceeding. (Jury Verdict Review)
Dana fared better in her contraceptive removal than Michelle J., who died at the hands of Tommy Tucker from complications of a Norplant removal.
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