An Ohio mother says her doctor sprayed her internally with the type of chemical found in drain cleaner during a recent gynecological exam, leaving her in a condition she fears will prevent her from having more children.
An Ohio woman filed a lawsuit alleging a gynecologist sprayed a chemical like that found in drain cleaner into her during an exam. (Image source: WKYC-TV)
"I was the victim of a pretty horrific experience at my gynecologist exam," the North Canton woman named Laura, who didn't want her last named used, told WKYC-TV.
She said it felt "like an open cut with rubbing alcohol being poured into it."
Laura is suing Paragon Health, alleging Dr. John Black sprayed a chemical that included potassium hydroxide into her vaginal canal during a colposcopy procedure
The National Library of Medicine describes a colposcopy as a method of looking at the cervix using a light and low-powered microscope. It spraying or swabbing with a vinegar or iodine solution to give the physician a clear view of the cervix to look for abnormalities, like cervical cancer.
The description of the procedure acknowledges that "some women feel a slight sting from the cleansing solution."
Potassium hydroxide does have a use in a gynecology office: It is used on microscope slides of biopsy samples. The chemical dissolves cell membranes and other materials, but not cellulose, like that found in the cell wall of fungi. It can be used to help diagnose a yeast infection, but on microscope slides -- not internally.
A chemistry professor demonstrated the effect potassium hydroxide, a very alkaline, or basic, solution, on a hotdog to demonstrate how it would break down human tissue. (Image source: WKYC-TV)
WKYC reported that Paragon denied using the chemical, maintaining it was a vinegar solution, and other allegations in the lawsuit. The lawsuit said the spray bottle used did say "vinegar" on it.
Laura and her husband Paul said the wrong solution was used though, potentially harming Laura's internal organs permanently:
"It soaks in and continues to soak in and burns from the inside out. It's not meant to go inside anyone's body," said Paul, who has demonstrated outside Paragon's offices with signs alleging Paragon permanently injured his wife by burning her private parts.
Black suspected something went terribly wrong, according to the lawsuit. He placed a tiny amount of the solution used on Laura into a cup. Medical records say the doctor "tasted it on the tip of his tongue which immediately started to burn."
Black is accused of saying "I'm breaking all the rules" and proceeding to irrigate the burn area with three bottles of saline solution. He also applied a cream inside her to numb the pain.
But there was another problem. The couple says the doctor wasn't wearing gloves.
"He puts an ungloved dirty finger inside her and rubs a numbing cream inside her. It's disgusting," Paul said.
Watch WKYC's report about the alleged incident:
The story doesn't end there. WKYC reported that Laura was called a couple hours later and told to go to the emergency room.
At the hospital, doctors found a plastic bottle cap behind her cervix. The solution found inside the mother of two at the time had a pH level of at least 12 (meaning it was a basic chemical -- the pH scale goes up to 14 being the most basic and down to 0 being the most acidic). The doctor's office had told the hospital the pH level of the solution sprayed into Laura was 7.5, or neutral.
"I don't know of anything in the body that has a pH of 12 or greater. It would be damaging to the body," Cleveland State chemistry professor David Ball told WKYC.
Laura and Paul had wished to have more children but now fear she will need to have a hysterectomy. She also told the local news station the pain makes it so she can't be intimate with her husband.
"This a scenario that no woman would ever, ever imagine," she told WKYC.
Read more details about the lawsuit in WKYC's full report.
Featured image via Shutterstock.