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Woman's Pain Mystery Solved When Surgical Tool Found Inside Her

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA  — A few months ago, a Rancho Santa Margarita woman checked into an Orange County surgery center for a common gynecological procedure. Now, she is preparing for a lawsuit.

CBS2's Suzie Suh reports on how Michelle Doig-Collins' trust in her OB/GYN was destroyed and the moment it crumbled all too vividly.

Doig-Collins' odyssey started in April. She checked into the surgery center for a uterine ablation due to having heavy periods and tubal ligation because she was done having children.

Doig-Collins, a mother of three, expected to start feeling better a few days after surgery but instead kept feeling worse.

"I was nauseous, had heavy cramping, heavy pain," she said.

She returned to her doctor's office three times after her surgery, where they did a pelvic exam and looked inside.

Doig-Collins says she got a diagnosis for a severe vaginal infection, which she never had before.

Antibiotics eased her symptoms temporarily, but on July 3, the pain came back with a vengeance.

When she went to the restroom, she discovered something that freaked her out, she said.

"My toilet paper got caught on a metal probe," Doig-Collins said.

Her husband rushed her to the emergency room and soon Doig-Collins finally had an explanation for her agony. The X-ray showed the tip of a surgical instrument used during her procedure had been left inside her.

"How did no one see this?" medical malpractice attorney Jeffery Greenman asked. "I am telling you from experience that it is not that rare."

Up to 4,000 Americans leave surgery every year with a retained surgical item. Something still in their body that doesn't belong.

"She very well could have died. She could have got sepsis or some other horrible infection that didn't go away," Greenman said.

Greenman, who is representing Doig-Collins, is  investigating how the instrument was left inside her in the first place and why it wasn't discovered during postoperative exams.

"I had this thing in me for 11 weeks," Doig-Collins said

CBS2 contacted corporate headquarters for the Surgical Center at Saddleback to ask if they could explain what might have happened. They have not yet responded. Orange Coast Women's Medical Group, which employs Doig-Collins' surgeon and provided her post-op care, has also not responded to an interview request.


  • Tips from nurses to protect yourself from medical errors: Click here 
  • To reach Greenman: Click here 
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