Contrary to popular belief, medical malpractice encompasses more than just surgical mistakes, failures to diagnose or prescription drug errors. In fact, one of the more common instances of medical malpractice is foreign objects, such as sponges or tools, being left inside a person's body after a surgical procedure.
According to a recent report, each year roughly1,500 patients in the United States have foreign matter left inside them after a surgical procedure. The Journal of Radiology has even referred to the leaving behind of surgical objects as a "highly underestimated problem."
Unfortunately, a Florida judge, Nelson E. Bailey, was recently one of these 1,500 victims. He made the news after it was discovered that doctors had left a 1-square-foot sponge inside his abdominal cavity.
Last October, Bailey had otherwise routine surgery to treat diverticulitis, a condition in which small pouches (called diverticula) in the large intestine become inflamed or infected. However, after the surgery, he continued to experience severe pain in his stomach/lower abdomen.
For five months, doctors were unable to identify the exact cause of his pain.
Bailey eventually underwent additional surgery, at which time surgeons made a surprising discovery: a 12-by 12-inch sponge had been left inside him after his October surgery.
Unfortunately, the medical mistake had caused considerable damage to Bailey's large intestine.
"When they opened me up, the medical report shows that [the sponge] was rotting. Because the sponge was left there and it was rotting, it created perforations in my intestines, so when they removed the sponge, they had to remove a section of my intestines as well," he said.
Bailey subsequently filed a medical malpractice suit against the hospital and later reached a settlement. He has also filed suit against the surgeon who performed the operation and two assisting radiologists.
The effects of the surgery continue to trouble him.
"I am not the same person I was before. I expected to get the same treatment anybody else got. Didn't turn out that way," he said.
If you lost a loved one or were seriously injured because foreign matter was left inside you after a surgical procedure, you should strongly consider contacting an experienced legal professional.
This post was for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal or medical advice.