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Woman Claims Doctor 'Spilled' Cancerous Tissue into Stomach

A woman is suing her gynecologist for allegedly not telling her that he accidentally cut open a tumor he removed from her ovary, spilling cancerous tissue in her abdomen and causing her cancer to spread.

The lawsuit, filed in Polk County District Court by Lavonne Schroeter, alleges that Dr. Curtis Hoegh's negligence during and after the operation "will cause her premature death." The lawsuit also names his employer, Iowa Health Physicians and Clinics, as a defendant.

The 53-year-old Schroeter says the Des Moines doctor removed her tumor in 2002, but he never mentioned it was cancerous or discussed any mishaps during surgery. However, Hoegh had Schroeter undergo an electronic scan after a blood test raised concerns three years later, and more growths were found.

Another surgeon removed several cancerous tumors and prescribed medication, but the cancer continued to spread, the lawsuit states. Last year, a doctor at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., told her that Hoegh had accidentally cut into her tumor and caused the spread of the cancer, which is terminal but treatable, according to the lawsuit.

Schroeter's lawyer, Roxanne Conlin of Des Moines, says the Mayo doctor found out about the mistake by reading her client's medical records.

Hoegh's "negligence was a proximate cause of injuries and damages to (Schroeter)," the lawsuit states.

Dr. Mark Barnhill, the group's medical director, says Hoegh and the clinic had not been served with the legal papers and could not comment on the allegations.

In a brief statement, Barnhill called Hoegh "a competent and caring physician who has served our community for 20 years."