Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Hospital fined for surgical sponge left in patient

Pennsylvania residents may have heard that a California woman recently learned that her years of pain and suffering and repeated hospital visits were the result of surgical errors made when she underwent a routine hysterectomy procedure in 2007. A few days after surgery and again twelve months later, the woman returned to the hospital. In both instances, the actual cause of her distress was never diagnosed.

It took four years in all for the surgical error to be revealed. It was only after the woman had another surgery to remove her ovaries that the true cause of her suffering was found. A surgical sponge, left inside her body after the first operation in 2007, had formed a mass inside her body.

By that time, scar tissue had grown to cover over the sponge completely, and removing it caused the woman to also lose a significant portion of her intestine. The hospital was fined $25,000 for the mistake as well as another $80,000 fine for surgical equipment left inside another patient who was also treated there. In a statement released to the public, the hospital emphasized it had implemented changes to increase safety for patients.

The mistake in this case was compounded by a failure to discover the true cause of the woman's continued suffering and medical issues. In a case involving such serious surgical errors, multiple parties may be responsible for the mistakes made in both the surgery and the delay in diagnosing the mistake. Although a careless surgeon may bear the bulk of the responsibility in a case such as this, other parties who were present could also be found liable, as could the hospital where the surgery was performed.

Source: New York Daily News, "California woman sues hospital after forgotten surgical sponge forces removal of intestines ", Deborah Hastings, June 18, 2014

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
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Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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