By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

PHILADELPHIA, August 15, 2008 ( – A woman who went to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Philadelphia in February 2003 to have contraceptive implant rods removed from her arm, has successfully sued the doctor who bungled the removal procedure.

Dana Asbury, a 39-year-old mother of three, was awarded more than $2.78 million in damages in a medical malpractice suit in which she maintained she has suffered excruciating and chronic pain, first, after Dr. Joel Lebed, who was associated with Planned Parenthood of Philadelphia, attempted to remove contraceptive implant rods, and then later when she underwent “unnecessary” neck surgery, said a report by Delcotimes.

“Obviously we’re pleased that the jury felt she had a meritorious case,” said Asbury’s attorney Garland D. Cherry Jr.

The woman’s problems began when Dr. Lebed, who was described in the legal papers as “inexperienced” to perform the medical procedure, made several unsuccessful attempts to remove the matchstick-sized rods. Asbury was described as being in severe pain throughout the procedure.

“(Dr. Lebed) gave up after a lot of pain and tears,” said attorney Cherry.

Eventually, another doctor in the PP clinic, Janet Wilson, removed all of the rods.

An article published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Volume 195, Issue 1, July 2006, titled “Nerve injury caused by removal of an implantable hormonal contraceptive” warns that an experienced clinician is required for proper insertion and removal, to minimize the risk of nerve damage.

“Implanon (a brand of contraceptive implant rods) insertion and removal are relatively uncomplicated procedures in the hands of medical professionals familiar with the technique. However, injury to branches of the medial antebrachial cutaneous nerve during Implanon insertion and removal can result in impaired sensibility, severe localized pain, or the formation of painful neuroma that can be quite devastating to the patient.”

“In the event that an injury to the nerve is recognized, immediate plastic surgical measures should be undertaken to avoid displeasing sequels of nerve injuries. Therefore, the benefit of this generally well-tolerated, highly effective, and relatively cost-efficient contraception is guaranteed only in the hands of medical professionals familiar with the technique,” the article concludes.

Following her surgery Asbury became debilitated because of the ensuing pain that began in her arm and progressively spread until it affected the whole left side of her body. She was consequently diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome (RPS), which involves a malfunction to the nervous system causing extreme sensitivity and chronic pain.

As a result of the RPS diagnosis, Asbury underwent a cervical laminectomy, a fusion of the cervical vertebrae, the bones of the neck that support the head, at the hands of Dr. Richard Kanoff, a neurosurgeon with Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital.

“The fusion itself was a successful fusion,” said attorney Cherry in the DelcoTimesreport. “The hardware was correct and everything held. The only problem was she didn’t need it and it worsened her condition.”

In awarding the money to Asbury for “past and future loss of earning capacity, future medical care, and pain and suffering” as well as to Asbury’s husband for “loss of consortium”, the jury determined Dr. Lebed was 60 percent liable for the damages and Dr. Kanoff 40 percent.