Written By Las Vegas based Law Clerk: Robert Maxey (Las Vegas, Nevada)
Seinfeld was an amazing show that set a standard for comedy. I remember watching an episode of Seinfeld in which Kramer and Jerry attended a surgery. During the surgery, however, a Junior Mint is dropped into the man's body. While incidents like this can be hilarious to an audience, the real life dangers of surgery can be horrifying.
There is no such thing as a risk free surgery, no matter how minor the procedure might be. This is true in Las Vegas, the rest of Nevada, and nationwide. Surgeons are required to tell their patients all of the dangers of a surgery they are to undergo. The reasons are that, during surgery, there is always a chance for complications and there is always a chance for death. It is the duty of surgeons and other doctors to deal with these dangers responsibly and professionally.
Just choosing to have surgery, when all of these risks are involved, can be a traumatic and stressful decisional experience for any patient. However, some patients do not have a choice in whether or to have surgery, and are left at the mercy of their physicians. A woman in Bucks County was giving birth to her first child and underwent a cesarean-section. Her child was successfully delivered. Shortly after the surgery, she complained of abdominal pain. Her pain was written off as being brought on by the procedure, and she was advised that it would dissipate with time. This, however, turned out not to be the case.
Two months after having her cesarean-section, she complained of excruciating pain in her abdomen. After receiving a CT scan it was revealed that a lab sponge was left inside her, most likely left by a prior surgery. During this surgery it was required that 16 inches of her small intestine be removed, due to the damage the sponge had caused. Two years following this corrective procedure, the woman experiences digestive problems and abdominal pain.
A jury awarded her $525,269 in a unanimous decision. The jury found the nurses working at Lower Bucks Hospital responsible for failing to perform the adequate sponge count. This procedure would have prevented these kinds of errors from happening. The doctor was not found liable, as he relied upon the nurses' sponge count before deciding to close the woman's abdomen.
The dangers of surgery are reduced when both doctors and nurses perform their job according to good policy and procedure. The negligence that occurred in this case is horrifying.
Full information the story can be found here: Woman awarded $500K after nurses left sponge in her abdomen