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Lawsuit filed after sponge found inside patient

North Carolina residents who are wary of surgical procedures may be interested in the case of a California woman who suffered for four years with gastrointestinal distress, bleeding and other symptoms after a hysterectomy in 2007. The woman returned to the hospital that performed the procedure three days later, and physicians did an X-ray, told her she was very constipated and then sent her home. Another visit, which stemmed from a time when the woman almost fainted at work, resulted in the hospital telling her that she had gastrointestinal issues and should avoid spicy food.

The cause of the pain and other symptoms was revealed when the woman began to suffer idiopathic bleeding in 2011. A gynecologist removed her ovaries when an ovarian cyst was suspected, but a mass was soon found. Rather than a tumor, though, a surgical sponge had been left inside her body during the hysterectomy and was completely encased in scar tissue.

The encasement resulted in the removal of about 50 percent of the woman's intestines. After the surgery, she decided to file a lawsuit against the hospital that performed the original hysterectomy, noting that one surgical mistake led to years of pain. The hospital self-reported the incident to the California health department and was fined $25,000 in 2012. However, another instance of hospital negligence in leaving an object in a patient's body led to a fine of $80,000 a few months later for an 8-inch clamp left in a different patient.

For those who are facing complications, pain or other suffering as the result of a medical mistake, it may be possible to recover some compensation for suffering endured. A hospital can be held accountable when a mistake, such as leaving an item in a patient by not properly counting equipment, occurs.

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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