Suit claims doctor wrongly removed healthy ovary

An Ellicott City obstetrician is accused of botching a woman's surgery last year, removing a healthy ovary and fallopian tube on the patient's right side when the doctor was supposed to excise a cyst on the left, according to a complaint filed in Baltimore Circuit Court.

The alleged mistake left Nadege Neim, 31, with diminished fertility and facing a second surgical procedure to treat the remaining ovary, her lawyers say.

Last week, she and her husband filed a medical malpractice suit seeking unspecified damages against Dr. Maureen Muoneke of Women's Care LLC, claiming the doctor operated on the wrong body part, neglected to get Neim's consent for the removal of anything and caused damage to her marriage.

"I feel so violated," Neim said in a statement provided by her lawyer.

Neim would not comment further, said her attorney, Andrew Slutkin. She is a medical student near the end of her training and is reluctant to speak publicly about the issue, he said.

Muoneke could not be reached for comment. She graduated from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1998, according to online records kept by the Maryland Board of Physicians, and has practice privileges at three facilities: St. Agnes and Harbor hospitals in Baltimore, and Howard County General Hospital in Columbia. No prior judgments or disciplinary actions have been reported against her.

The Baltimore lawsuit claims that Neim, who lives in Burtonsville, was pregnant in June of 2009 and received an ultrasound from Muoneke, whose practice is in Ellicott City. The scan revealed a mass on her left ovary, which the doctor diagnosed as a likely "dermoid cyst," a typically benign tumor.

Another ultrasound last year showed that the cyst was still present, and Muoneke recommended that it be surgically removed to avoid "future complications," according to the lawsuit. An outpatient "cystectomy" was scheduled for Sept. 22, 2010, at St. Agnes.

Neim showed up that afternoon, and was taken to the procedure room, where "unbeknownst" to her, "Dr. Muoneke inappropriately and negligently failed to attempt to only remove the cyst and instead removed Mrs. Neim's entire right ovary and fallopian tube," the civil complaint states.

Three weeks later, Neim visited Muoneke twice, complaining of pelvic pain on her right side, but the doctor never acknowledged a mistake, according to the lawsuit. It was only discovered after Neim went to the Howard County General Hospital Emergency Department on Oct. 21, where a scan showed that the tumor was present on her left ovary and that her right ovary was gone, the suit said.

Neim's new gynecologist recommended that the cyst be removed and contends that Neim is now at risk for infertility, according to the lawsuit. She has yet to undergo the procedure, however, and "suffers anxiety and mental distress regarding her cyst and the need for another surgery; and/or has suffered a significant decrease in her ability to bear children in the future," the suit claims.

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