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Retained Sponge During Gallbladder Surgery Leads to $350,000 Settlement

Chesapeake, Virginia (VA) 2010. 

Our client was a 55-year-old mentally challenged Portsmouth, VA resident who lived at home with his mother. He began complaining of stomach pain and was taken to the hospital where it was determined that his gallbladder had to be removed.  During the surgery, the surgeon used a number of sponges to control bleeding.  At the end of the surgery, the surgeon was supposed to remove all the sponges and the operating room nurses count them to make sure they were removed.

The surgery was uneventful and the client went home. Approximately four months later, our client developed abdominal symptoms and was taken back to the hospital.  It was determined that a sponge had been left in his abdomen at the conclusion of his gallbladder surgery.  To remove it, he underwent an additional, elaborate and serious surgery which required extensive repairs to his bowel. It took him approximately eight months to recover and he incurred approximately $50,000 in medical expenses. 

The challenge in the case was to convince the surgeon's insurance company that he should be partially responsible to our client for his damages. The surgeon's insurance company wanted to place all of the blame on the insurance company who represented the operating room nurses. We retained the services of two expert witness surgeons who both testified that it is the surgeon's joint responsibility with the nurses to remove the sponge from the patient at the end of the procedure.

$350,000 settlement


James C. Lewis, attorney; Melissa Kelly, legal assistant; Denell Falzon, paralegal.