Veteran receives $275,000 after doctors leave towels inside him

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When we become ill we turn to the medical professionals to help us find out what is wrong and tell us how to get better. We trust these medical personnel with our lives. These doctors and other medical staff have a duty to the highest standard of care. Yet, even the most experienced doctor can make a mistake. In a recent case, the federal government will now have to pay $275,000 on behalf of the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center located in Cleveland, Ohio to settle a medical malpractice lawsuit.

According to court documents, surgeons at the medical center left two 14-by-11-inch towels inside the man during a surgery to remove a kidney that contained a cancerous growth. The towels caused the man pain and discomfort following the May 2008 surgery. He returned to the hospital three times complaining of pain before doctors ordered a CAT scan in August 2008. The scan revealed two towels in his body.

Hospital officials admitted surgical mistakes had been made, and the man underwent surgery to remove the towels the next day. However, the procedures caused the man to develop a hernia and the VA was initially unwilling to do a third surgery to fix that problem, according to the man’s lawsuit.

A Stamford, Connecticut, medical expert said in an affidavit that the two surgeons who performed the man’s initial procedure “violated standards of care.” Following the procedure, the surgeons reported all the medical supplies used during the man’s kidney surgery were where they belonged. Although the surgeons said they could account for all medical supplies, two large towels remained in the man. The medical expert added in his affidavit that “there is no excuse” for why the surgeons left the towels in the man’s body.

In June 2011, the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center began using radio frequency identification chips to track surgical equipment. The hospital hopes the new system will prevent another such lapse, a hospital spokesperson said. The hospital is first in Northeast Ohio to launch such a system.

Source: The Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Veteran gets $275,000 after doctors at Louis Stokes VA Medical Center leave 2 towels inside him during surgery,” Mark Gillispie, Dec. 14, 2011