An Ohio medical malpractice trial started on July 14, 2014 in which it is alleged that a surgical sponge was left in a patient after a 17-hour surgery in February 2009 that ultimately led to the patient’s death 15 months later. The Ohio medical malpractice lawsuit was filed by the patient’s husband in 2010 against the surgeon and various operating room personnel, alleging medical negligence and wrongful death.
The medical malpractice defendants admit that a surgical sponge was left behind in the woman’s abdomen for approximately seven months during which two attempts were made to remove it, but they deny that the sponge led to the woman’s death on May 7, 2010, at age 58.
The medical malpractice plaintiff alleges that the 17-hour surgery that took place over a two-day period, from February 26 to February 27, 2009, involved changes in operating room personnel during the surgery. At the end of the surgery, the defendant surgeon was advised that the sponge count was incorrect, resulting in the surgeon ordering an x-ray. The plaintiff alleges that the surgeon removed one sponge and was then told that the sponge count was correct. The surgeon thereafter completed the surgery.
The medical malpractice claim alleges that the surgeon did not view the x-ray himself during the surgery, which allegedly showed a second sponge left in the patient’s upper-left abdomen, until five or six weeks after the surgery. A radiology report for the x-ray taken during surgery, which was not completed until long after the surgery, indicated “two ribbon-like high density structures” that were consistent with two sponges having been left behind.
The defendant surgeon made two attempts to remove the sponge, but was unsuccessful with both attempts. During one of the surgical attempts to remove the sponge, the defendant surgeon allegedly injured the woman’s spleen.
The woman was ultimately referred to the Cleveland Clinic, where a 9-hour surgery on October 1, 2009 accomplished the removal of the left-behind sponge.
The defense argues that the defendant surgeon was told during the original surgery that the sponge count was off by one, which sponge the surgeon removed. The surgeon, however, did not look at the x-ray that he had ordered. The defense admits that the surgeon deviated from the standard of care but argues that the sponge left in his patient after surgery did not cause or contribute to the woman’s death; the defense alleges that the woman’s complicated intestinal condition led to her death.
The Ohio medical malpractice trial is expected to last one week.
If a surgical sponge or other foreign object used during surgery is unintentionally left in a patient’s body following surgery, it is likely that there was medical negligence. Operating room protocols (rules) are usually in place to make sure that nothing unintended is left behind after surgery. Multiple operating room personnel are often jointly responsible to make sure that sponge counts are correct before the surgery is completed.
If you or a loved one were injured (or worse) as a result of medical negligence in the United States, you should promptly consult with a local medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate whether medical malpractice occurred and represent you in a medical malpractice claim, if appropriate.
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