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Medical Verdicts


Sponge overlooked, but during which cesarean?

May 2004 · Vol. 16, No. 5

<court>Jefferson County (Ala) Circuit Court</court>

Nine months after her second cesarean, a 44-year-old-woman presented to her Ob/Gyn with persistent cramping and abdominal pain. After a series of tests, the physician diagnosed endometritis.

When the patient reported persistent symptoms a year later, the doctor ordered a computed tomography scan; the study showed a large mass in the woman’s uterus. An emergency laparotomy revealed an 18-by-18-inch sponge, which the doctor removed. He also discovered an abscess that required a hysterectomy.

The woman sued, claiming the sponge was left during her second cesarean delivery.

The defendant hospital, however, argued the sponge was actually forgotten during her first cesarean. As proof, the defense presented testimony from the head nurse at the time of second procedure. She claimed to be a meticulous counter, and testified that she specifically recalled that the sponge count on the second cesarean was correct.

Although the first procedure was also conducted at the defendant institution, the defense claimed that the statute of limitations had expired.

  • The jury awarded the plaintiff $500,000.

The cases in this column are selected by the editors of OBG Management from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts, with permission of the editor, Lewis Laska, of Nashville, Tenn. (www.verdictslaska.com) While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.

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