Kentucky Surgical Malpractice: Jury Awards Woman $2.5 Million After Surgical Sponge Left in After Hysterectomy Results in Personal Injuries

A Kentucky jury says Three Rivers Medical Center in Lawrence County must pay former patient Sophia Savage $2.5 million for a surgical mistake that resulted in a surgical sponge being left inside her body following a medical procedure. Savage underwent her hysterectomy in 2001.

About three and a half years later, she had to undergo another surgery to remove the sponge. Part of her small intestine had to be taken out because the sponge had gotten lodged against it.

She claims that having the foreign object in her body caused her to experience depression, anxiety, abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea. For her Kentucky surgical malpractice verdict, the jury awarded Sophia $1,934,031 for past and future pain, $65,969 for medical costs, and $500,000 for her husband’s loss of consortium claim.

A 2003 report in the New England Journal of Medicine noted that about 1,500 of the medical errors that occur annually involve surgical team members accidentally leaving a surgical tool or a sponge inside a patient. It can also take years before the patient starts to exhibit symptoms. The longer the surgical sponge remains in the body, the greater the harm to the patient.

A surgical sponge left inside the human body can result in infected abscesses or injury to internal organ issues. Sepsis, bowel perforation, nerve damage, organ damage, internal bleeding, and blood clots may also result. The ensuing medical procedures can be costly and painful for the patient. Retained foreign objects due to surgery may even be fatal.

It is the responsibility of the surgical team and the surgeon to make sure that no foreign objects are left inside the body following surgery. One way to do this it to count all of the surgical instruments and tools before and after the procedure. Visually or manually examining the cavity area before closing it up is also helpful. Failure to remove all foreign objects from the patient's body following surgery can be grounds for a Kentucky medical malpractice lawsuit.

Woman Receives $2.5 Million for Medical Mishap, WSAZ.com, March 11, 2009

Medical Malpractice and Surgical Complications

Related Web Resources:
FAQ: Retained Foreign Objects After Surgery, Jointcommission.org

Three Rivers Medical Center