July 28, 2011


A Pennsylvania woman suffered terrible pain and eventually lost over a foot of her small intestine after the surgical team that performed her Cesarean section left a sponge inside her abdomen. Now she has obtained justice for their medical negligence after the jury in her medical malpractice case against the team and its hospital found in her favor. On July 21, the jury ordered Lower Bucks Hospital and two of its nurses to pay the patient $525,269 in compensation for her injuries, a figure that could go up if the woman’s motion to factor in interest succeeds. However, the surgeon was found not liable by the jury.

The woman underwent the C-section procedure on March 30, 2004. During the surgery, laparotomy sponges were used to absorb bodily fluids. But though nurses are supposed to keep track of the number of sponges used, one of the sponges was left inside her after the surgeon finished delivering the woman’s infant.

Shortly after awakening, the patient began feeling terrible pain in her abdomen. Doctors told her it was a normal post-surgery reaction, but the pain remained and worsened for nearly two months.

Finally, on June 18, the woman went to another hospital, where a CT scan discovered the foreign object. Doctors found that the sponge had caused a severe infection in her small intestine, and had to remove 16 inches of the organ. Today, adhesions caused by scar tissue continue to cause the patient pain and health problems, her attorney said. In all, the surgical error has reportedly cost the woman $42,000 in medical bills.

Following the trial, the jury found that two nurses who were part of the surgical team failed to count the number of sponges three times-once each before, during and after the surgery-as commonly required. They were found liable, as was Lower Bucks. The surgeon testified that he had relied on the nurses to keep track of sponges. He was not found to have committed malpractice.

The woman’s attorney said he would move to have the court add interest to the damages as “delay damages” which would raise the total compensation to $737,241. The lawsuit was originally filed in 2005.

Source: PhillyBurbs.com, “Woman awarded $500K after nurses left sponge in her abdomen,” Jo Ciavaglia and Laurie Mason Schroeder, July 21, 2011

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