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Lawsuit alleges sponge left in patient led to her death

There is no question that in many cases a patient who undergoes surgery is much better off following the procedure than he or she was prior to it taking place. In some instances however a patient may be hurt in the course of an operation. This could lead to serious injuries and even death.

Surgical errors can take many forms. Sometimes the wrong body part is operated upon. Other times a scalpel may nick a vital organ. In still other cases, an instrument or object used in the course of a surgery will be left inside the body of a patient. A case of this nature is currently pending in Ohio.

A laparotomy sponge was left in the abdomen of a 57-year-old woman. Seven months later it was removed. Fifteen months after the initial surgery the woman died.

At the end of that first surgery a sponge count reveled that one of the sponges was missing. This led to an x-ray being taken. The surgeon did not look at the x-ray however as he removed something from her that he believed was that missing sponge, and closed her up. In reality, it was not the missing sponge.

Over a month later when the surgeon did look at the x-ray, the woman once again underwent surgery, this time to remove the sponge. Despite performing two surgeries, the surgeon was unsuccessful at removing the foreign object. It was finally retrieved when surgeons at another facility got it out after nine hours.

Though the doctor admits that failing to look at the x-ray immediately fell below the standard of care expected, he alleges that was not to blame for the woman’s death. Instead he asserts that her death was the result of a “complicate intestinal history.” How this matter will be resolved is currently unclear.

No one is prepared to lose a loved one in the course of a surgical procedure. When it does happen however, a lawyer who handles medical malpractice lawsuits may be able to help you recoup financial damages.

Source: Medscape, “Did a Missing Sponge Cause This Patient's Death?; More,” Wayne J. Guglielmo, Aug. 21, 2014

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