$3.5m ordered in breast surgery malpractice case

Boston Globe, June 16, 2006

By David Abel, Globe Staff

Breast surgery left woman disfigured

An Essex jury awarded $3.5 million yesterday to a Newburyport woman who had to have her breasts removed after a failed breast-reduction operation.

Dr. Michele T. Sasmor, a plastic surgeon from Newburyport, was negligent in botching a 2002 operation and failing to provide the victim, Celine Vincent, with sufficient information about the risks, the jury found at Superior Court in Lawrence.

"I think the jury recognized the effect of the trauma and the emotional injury," said William Thompson, a Boston-based laywer representing Vincent. Neither Dr. Sasmor nor her lawyer returned calls yesterday. Hospital officials confirmed the doctor works there, but declined to comment further.

Vincent, 63, filed her lawsuit in January 2003, after the operation at Anna Jacques Hospital in Newburyport, Thompson said.

It was Vincent’s second breast-reduction operation, he said. The first operation, at a Montreal hospital in 1961 , used a different technique, he said. The doctors preserved blood flow from the top part of her breasts and removed tissue from the bottom, the routine technique at the time, he said.

In 2002, after having had three children and gaining 40 pounds, Vincent wanted another breast reduction, Thompson said.

When Dr. Sasmor did the surgery that December, Thompson said, she cut tissue from the top and preserved blood flow from the bottom of her breasts, which is how the operation is now routinely done.

"Sasmor didn't check how the previous operation was done," Thompson said. "She assumed it was done the way she was doing it, and she was mistaken. "

The operation resulted in a disruption of blood flow to Vincent’s breasts, which left the tissue "necrotic," meaning they had to be removed shortly after the surgery.

Lubin & Meyer attorneys represented the plaintiff in this breast reduction surgery lawsuit.

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