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Medical malpractice suit follows when sponge is left in body

For Hawaiian residents who are preparing for a surgical procedure, fears surrounding the surgery and the inherent risks abound. There are so many unknowns when it comes to a serious medical procedure, and so many things that can go wrong. One risk is that a patient could be subjected to a surgical error, which could lead to serious health problems. Those fears could be deepened with the news of a medical malpractice lawsuit that is currently underway.

The case surrounds a woman who underwent a surgical procedure in 2009. The surgery took longer than expected, and there were shift changes within the 17-hour surgical window. When the surgical team was preparing to wrap up, a routine count of surgical sponges used during the procedure did not add up. It became clear that a sponge was left within the patient’s abdomen.

An X-ray was done, and the surgeon was able to remove a sponge from the woman’s body and complete the procedure. The surgeon claims that the medical team told him that the sponge count was correct at the time the procedure was concluded. In reality, however, a sponge remained inside the woman’s body.

Within a recent hearing in the matter, it was revealed that the surgeon never examined his patient’s X-ray. That scan showed another sponge present in the patient’s body. The surgeon did not see this until five to six weeks later, when he noted it in her file. Multiple attempts were made to remove the sponge, as the woman’s health continued to decline. One of those attempts caused damage to the woman’s spine.

The sponge was eventually removed, but the woman passed away nonetheless. In the medical malpractice suit brought by her family, it is alleged that the medical team and surgeon share responsibility for her death. As the medical malpractice case moves forward, readers in Hawaii and elsewhere will follow to see how the court handles the matter.

Source: Dayton Daily News, "Sponge left in woman's body leads to medical malpractice suit", Mark Gokavi, July 14, 2014

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