Doctor Accused of Medical Malpractice Over Alleged Botched Circumcision

A recent court filing has revealed a contentious medical malpractice case involving a circumcision gone wrong, with the plaintiff alleging significant harm to her minor son. Kate O’Laughlin filed the complaint in the Circuit Court of Cook County on March 22, 2018, against Dr. Marc Feldstein and Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

The case revolves around a circumcision performed by Dr. Feldstein on November 6, 2014, using a Mogen clamp. The plaintiff claims that this procedure caused her son, Sean Hladik, to develop a urethral fistula—a condition where an abnormal connection forms between the urethra and the skin. According to O’Laughlin, the issue became apparent when Sean was about two years old and undergoing toilet training. The defense countered that the fistula was congenital and not caused by the circumcision.

During the trial in August 2022, multiple experts testified for both sides. Plaintiff’s expert, Dr. Richard Luciani, argued that improper use of the Mogen clamp caused the injury by crushing Sean’s urethra due to incorrect placement of the device at a low angle. He claimed that this resulted in significant tissue damage leading to the fistula. Conversely, defense expert Dr. Ann LaBarge contended that such an injury would have been catastrophic and immediately noticeable due to severe bleeding and other collateral damage—none of which were documented post-procedure.

One key point of contention during the trial was whether Dr. LaBarge’s testimony regarding urine flow through a crushed urethra should be admitted as it was not disclosed before trial as required by Illinois Supreme Court Rule 213. The court allowed it, deeming it a logical corollary to her disclosed opinions about how a properly placed Mogen clamp could not cause such an injury without immediate severe consequences.

Another heated debate involved demonstrative evidence used during testimonies. The defense introduced a video showing a Gomco clamp circumcision—a different method from what was used on Sean—to illustrate procedural differences and challenge Dr. Luciani’s credibility since he had not performed a Mogen clamp circumcision in over 40 years. The plaintiff objected to this video on grounds of irrelevance and potential prejudice but was overruled by the court.

Ultimately, after hearing all testimonies and reviewing evidence, including detailed anatomical explanations and surgical procedures from both sides’ experts, the jury ruled in favor of Dr. Feldstein. The plaintiff’s post-trial motion for a new trial was denied.

Representing Kate O’Laughlin were attorneys whose names are not specified in this document summary; however, Judge James M. Varga presided over the case (Case ID: No. 18 L 2984). This ruling highlights ongoing complexities in medical malpractice litigation where expert testimonies can significantly sway jury decisions based on technical nuances.

This article was first published in Cook County Record.

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