Woman brings lawsuit after surgical error

Ohio patients may be interested to hear about a California woman who is suing a hospital after medical staff forgot to remove a surgical sponge during an operation. In 2007, the woman had a hysterectomy performed at Simi Valley Hospital in Southern California. Three days later, she went back to the hospital complaining of pain, but medical providers told her she had a severe case of constipation.

The woman says that among other symptoms, she experienced vaginal bleeding, nausea and abdominal pain following the hysterectomy. A year after the initial surgery, the woman almost fainted and again returned to the hospital, but she was only diagnosed with a gastrointestinal issue. In 2011, a gynecologist believed that an ovarian cyst might have been to blame for some of her symptoms. During the surgery to remove the suspected cyst, medical providers discovered a sponge, which was covered in scar tissue. In order to remove it, they had to take out a significant portion of her intestines.

In 2012, the California Department of Public Health fined the hospital $25,000, and they also paid a penalty a few months later for leaving a clamp in another surgical patient. The hospital says they have more safety procedures in place now than they did at the time of the woman's surgery. In the lawsuit, the woman has named both the hospital and medical staff involved in the surgery as defendants.

In some cases, a physician or other medical staff may administer the wrong amount of anesthesia, use non-sterile equipment, puncture vital organs or make the incisions incorrectly. Following surgery, a doctor could also fail to diagnose or properly treat complications within a reasonable time frame. If a medical provider has made an error during a surgery, the patient may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

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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