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Woman dies after surgical sponge left inside her body

When doctors perform a surgery in Fulton County, Georgia, certain procedural safeguards must be followed in order to ensure that the safety of the patient is always a top priority. One of these is keeping track of the number of surgical sponges that are used. Prior to and following the surgery, sponges are counted in order to ensure that all are accounted for and that none are left inside the patient's body.

Apparently medical personnel dropped the ball when they either miscounted the number of sponges or failed to keep track of how many were used during a 17-hour surgery in February 2009. Because of the length of the surgery, there were some personnel shift changes that may have accounted for the sponge count being off. Members of the medical team told the surgeon that the sponge count was not right, so he took an X-ray. However, he did not look at the X-ray before removing a sponge and being told by the medical team that the count was right. Had he looked at the X-ray, he would have seen one more sponge still inside the woman's body.

The sponge was not removed until October 2009 during a nine hour long surgery. The 58-year-old woman died in May 2010. Her husband filed a medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit against the doctor and surgical team.

Although nothing can make up for the death of his wife, hopefully the man's lawsuit will enable him to be properly compensated for her medical expenses.

Source: Dayton Daily News, " Sponge left in woman's body leads to medical malpractice suit," Mark Gokavi, July 14, 2014

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