Patients are often fearful of many things when they enter a hospital for surgery. One thing they likely don’t think about, and shouldn’t need to, is having surgical implements or materials forgotten and left in their bodies after the procedure’s conclusion. One Louisiana man claims he recently suffered such a fate at the West Jefferson Medical Center in Marrero. According to the patient, the hospital staff failed to account for all of the surgical sponges it used during his colon cancer surgery and left one behind, leading to fever, drainage, bloating and swelling.
Charles Anderson initially faced the stressful news, following a colonoscopy, that he had colon cancer. In the spring of 2010, Anderson underwent surgery to treat his cancer. Anderson’s problems worsened after the surgery. He began experiencing high fevers shortly after the procedure and later noticed heavy abdominal bloating and swelling in his right abdomen. That fall, doctors performed a body scan on Anderson, whereupon they discovered a surgical sponge inside his body. The forgotten sponge required Anderson to undergo another surgery to remove it.
The patient filed a medical malpractice suit against the hospital and his surgeon for his injuries. Anderson contended that the hospital and the surgeon failed to maintain a proper count of the surgical sponges used on (and removed from) his body, failed to have proper safety procedures in place, failed to ensure competence among the staff, and failed to monitor the post-operative infection he developed to a proper extent. Anderson is seeking an unspecified amount of damages for his pain and suffering, medical expenses, emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of earning capacity, impairment and disfigurement.
Regrettably, while events like those allegedly encountered by Anderson should be rare, they are not. A USA Today report states that surgical sponges and other implements get left behind inside a patient after a surgical procedure somewhere between 4,500 and 6,000 times each year. Electronic tracking devices exist that can attach to sponges and dramatically reduce the risk of a left-behind implement. Even though the electronic devices would add only about $8 to $12 to the cost of each surgery, and the average damages award from successful medical malpractice claims arising from forgotten sponges ranges between $100,000 and $200,000, hospitals remain hesitant to use the technology. Fewer than 15% of hospital in the United States use the technology, according to USA Today.
Patients have enough to worry about when they are preparing to go to the hospital for surgery. Leaving the hospital with a forgotten sponge or device inside them, or any other form of malpractice, should not be added to that list of fears. Too often though, mistakes happen. When they do, reach out right away to the Louisiana personal injury attorneys at the Cardone Law Firm. We skillfully and zealously represent clients who have suffered a variety of types of medical malpractice, and can help you understand your options and, when necessary, advocate to get you what you’re owed as you proceed on the road to recovery.
For your confidential consultation contact us online or Phone Cardone at 504-522-3333.
More Blog Posts:
Louisiana Robot Surgeries – Human-Error Still a Major Concern, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, July 27, 2013
Getting it Wrong – Louisiana Med Mal Cases, Often Result of Misdiagnosis, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, June 16, 2013