Last week we talked about the widespread issue of surgeons failing to remove items like gauze or sponges from surgical patients. When surgeons fail to remove an item from a patient's body, it can lead to serious health problems down the road. Unfortunately, one man who sought care at a Connecticut hospital experience just how bad those health problems can be.
In 2010, a Trumbull man underwent an operation for a hernia at St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport. Unfortunately, a doctor's error caused what would have likely been a routine surgery to become a lasting problem.
The medical team who conducted his hernia operation left a surgical sponge inside of him. Now 66, the man says that the error caused him to experience heart palpitations, bowel problems, back and neck pain, and serious infection. Even after a surgery to remove the sponge, the man can no longer go biking and has to limit how often he drives. The mistake, he says, has completely changed his life.
Now, he is suing St. Vincent's for medical malpractice. In addition to the pain and permanent injuries the medical mistake caused the man, the hospital sent him a $24,000 bill for the operation to remove the surgical sponge that his insurance won't cover. Understandably, he does not think he should have to pay it. It's not clear exactly how much he is seeking from the medical malpractice suit, but we do know that it is more than $15,000.
Sadly, this case only reinforces what we discussed last week. "Never events" like leaving sponges in patients occur at alarming rates, yet many hospitals have not taken action. Fortunately, medical malpractice laws exist to help Connecticut residents who have been harmed by a doctor's negligence. No patient should be injured by their doctor, and they certainly should not have to pay the price to fix a doctor's mistake.
Source: CT Post, "Man claims hospital botched surgery," Amanada Cuda, March 11, 2013