When you go in for surgery or other medical procedures, you have confidence that your doctor will cross every “I” and dot every “T” while you are under the knife. But that doesn’t always happen. Medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States, taking more than a quarter-million lives each year and surpassed in number only by cancer and heart disease.
At Kurzban, Kurzban, Weinger, Tetzeli and Pratt, we know how frustrating it can recover following medical errors. Our Hawaii medical malpractice attorney can help you piece your life back together following your injury at the hands of negligent medical personnel.
In the U.S. each year, research indicates that up to 6,000 patients are affected by surgical instruments and tools left in their bodies post-surgery. Around 70 percent of these cases involve sponges or gauze inadvertently left in the patient’s body. Let’s look at some cringe-worthy examples of patients who went home with more than they bargained for after their surgeries.
Such was the case for Air Force Major Erika Parks who underwent an emergency Cesarean section delivery. Following the procedure, her stomach continued to get bigger. Later tests revealed that a surgical sponge was left inside her abdomen; it became entangled with her intestines, necessitating a six-hour surgery to remove tissue, which had become infected.
A sponge was also left behind inside an unnamed Kentucky woman. She went in for a hysterectomy. Her doctors removed her uterus, but they left a surgical sponge behind in its place. Six months later, the sponge was finally discovered, but by that time, the sponge had caused damage to her small intestine, which had to be partially removed. Needless to say, when the case went to court, the woman was awarded a large settlement in damages: $2.5 million.
John P. Freel experienced lower-back pain post spinal surgery and shrugged it off as being related to the procedure. After a staph infection developed in Freel’s body, it was discovered that a surgical sponge was left behind in the man’s body. An operation was later undertaken to remove the sponge and related infected tissue.
Sponges are not always the culprit in these types of medical errors. Doctors treated William Barlow at a VA Hospital for an abdominal aneurysm in 2000, and shortly after, he developed the blood infection known as sepsis, which can result in organ failure and death. In 2001, Barlow went in for a different procedure, and only then was it discovered that doctors had left behind a surgical towel during the aneurysm repair; it had become wrapped around the man’s intestines. He later won a $450,000 settlement for his harrowing ordeal.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of a medical error due to the negligence or careless disregard of a doctor, surgeon, anesthesiologist or other healthcare professional, turn to Kurzban, Kurzban, Weinger, Tetzeli and Pratt for expert legal help. Contact our Hawaii medical malpractice attorney now to set up a free consultation and case review.