The widow of a man who suffered a serious infection following surgery because a surgical sponge was negligently left behind in his abdomen filed a Louisiana medical malpractice case on August 4, 2014 against the surgeon and others. The wife seeks unspecified compensatory damages as well as equitable relief on behalf of her husband’s estate.
The Louisiana malpractice lawsuit alleges that the man had been found to have plaque in his abdomen for which the defendant surgeon performed a biopsy to assist in the diagnosis of his condition. Following the surgical procedure, the man experienced a great deal of pain. The surgeon determined that a large amount of blood was pooling in his abdomen, which led to the defendant surgeon packing the man’s abdomen with surgical sponges.
According to the medical malpractice lawsuit, the defendant surgeon negligently failed to remove one of the surgical sponges (a pad), which led to a massive infection. A CT scan had revealed the foreign object in the man’s abdomen, which was determined to be a left behind sponge (pad) from the prior procedure that had to be surgically removed. The man suffered a serious infection that required that a portion of his surgical wound be left open and resulted in a very large wound from the man’s sternum to his navel. The wound took many months to heal during which the man had substantial pain and discomfort.
The widow alleges in her medical malpractice lawsuit that her husband was diagnosed with kidney failure and sepsis (a life-threatening systemic infection) after his second surgical procedure. Her Louisiana medical malpractice lawsuit was filed in the 24th Judicial District Court and has been assigned to a judge in that court.
A surgical sponge unintentionally left behind in a patient after surgery should never happen. In fact, it is specifically defined as a “never event” for which Medicare will not pay for the associated medical expenses (Medicare defines never events as “non-reimbursable serious hospital-acquired conditions”).
The term “never event” was first used in 2001 by the former CEO of the National Quality Forum to reference particularly shocking medical errors that should never occur and the list of never events has expanded over time to identify adverse events that are unambiguous, serious, and usually preventable. There were originally 27 “never events” listed in 2002 (originally termed “serious reportable events”) that have been revised over time so that by 2011, there were 29 never events grouped into categories (surgical, product or device, patient protection, care management, environmental, radiologic, and criminal). The 2011 table of “never events” includes in the surgical category, “Unintended retention of a foreign object in a patient after surgery or other procedure.”
If you or a loved one suffered a never event while in a hospital or other health care facility in the United States, you should promptly consult with a local medical malpractice attorney in your U.S. state who may investigate your never event claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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