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Lawsuit claims Ellicott City doctor removed wrong ovary

A Howard County physician is being sued for at least $30,000 by a former patient who says the doctor was supposed to remove a cyst from her left ovary but instead removed her right ovary and fallopian tube.

Nadege Neim and her husband, Jean, both of Burtonsville, filed the lawsuit Sept. 21 in Baltimore City Circuit Court. The doctor, obstetrician and gynecologist Maureen Muoneke, has an office on the 9000 block of Chevrolet Drive in Ellicott City and practices at Harbor Hospital in Baltimore, Howard County General Hospital in Columbia and Saint Agnes Hospital in Baltimore, according to the Maryland Board of Physicians website. The surgery was performed at Saint Agnes, according to the lawsuit.

Neim has since started seeing a new gynecologist who says the cyst should still be removed and that Neim is at risk of infertility, according to the lawsuit. Neim's husband, Jean, is included in the litigation due to "injury to [their] marital relationship … including a loss of procreation."

"I feel so violated," Neim said in a statement provided by her attorneys. "I can't believe my doctor did this to my family and my future. It's doubly painful because, when she figured it out, she didn't tell me and just left me in pain."

A receptionist who answered the phone at the doctor's office said Muoneke had no comment on the lawsuit.

Nadege Neim was a pregnant 28-year-old medical student in June 2009, when she visited Muoneke for an ultrasound. The examination showed that Neim had a mass in her left ovary, according to a copy of the lawsuit.

Neim met again with Muoneke in July 2009 and was told the mass was about 3 centimeters by 2 centimeters and likely was a dermoid cyst, which "usually are benign but can grow, rupture and/or become malignant," the lawsuit said.

Muoneke had Neim undergo another ultrasound in September 2010, according to the lawsuit. The accompanying report says that Neim's uterus and right ovary "appear unremarkable" while the left ovary "contains [a] solid component," Neim's attorneys said. The lawsuit includes what is said to be a drawing done by the ultrasound technician "of what the right and left ovaries looked like, making it crystal clear that the cyst was on the left side."

Neim and Muoneke scheduled surgery for Sept. 22, 2010. Neim was just to have the cyst removed, not the left ovary, her attorneys said, and yet the surgery didn't take out the cyst but rather the entire right ovary and fallopian tube.

Muoneke filed a written note later that day indicating that she had removed the right ovary, and a report made the following day said the right ovary and fallopian tube had been removed, according to the lawsuit.

Neim and Muoneke met again on Oct. 14 and Oct. 19. Neim's attorneys argue that Muoneke, in going over a pathology report with her patient, "would have realized that no … cyst was found." At neither appointment did the doctor tell Neim that the wrong ovary had been removed, the lawsuit said.

Neim had complained during each visit about pain around the right side of her pelvis. She left a message at Muoneke's office on Oct. 20 but never heard back from the doctor, the lawsuit said.

Neim checked in to Howard County General Hospital in Columbia on Oct. 21, where a scan showed that a cyst was still in her left ovary, her attorneys said.

Muoneke graduated from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1998 and underwent postgraduate training through the University of Maryland Medical System in Baltimore, according to state records. Her license was issued in 2002. She has no records of being disciplined by the state medical board in the past 10 years, nor does the state Board of Physicians have any record of any malpractice judgments or convictions.

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