Surgeon fails to remove surgical pad, causing patient's infection

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Case in Point

May 17, 2011

Surgeon fails to remove surgical pad, causing patient's infection 

The patient, who required additional surgery, alleged that the surgeon and hospital were liable for failure to remove all of the surgical pads used in the first operation. He claimed the doctor should have performed a thorough abdominal sweep and the hospital should have ensured the pad count was correct. The jury awarded about $260,100. Bartle v. Sisters of Charity Hosp.

Justin Bartle, 26, underwent a partial bowel resection, which was performed by general surgeon Fred Boehmke. About 10 days later, Bartle suffered severe pain and went to a hospital emergency room. Boehmke suspected a drainage problem and placed Bartle on antibiotics. A subsequent CT-guided drainage procedure did not relieve Bartle’s pain.

Bartle later consulted another physician, who suggested additional surgery. This revealed that a surgical pad had been left in Bartle’s abdomen during the bowel resection. A commercial roofer earning about $26 per hour, he missed several weeks of work, incurring about $4,000 in lost wages.

Bartle sued Boehmke and the hospital, alleging failure to remove all of the surgical pads used during the operation. Among other things, he asserted that Boehmke failed to perform a thorough abdominal sweep and that the hospital failed to ensure the pad count was correct.

The jury awarded about $260,100.

Citation: Bartle v. Sisters of Charity Hosp., No. 1327/09 (N.Y., Erie Co. Sup. Mar. 21, 2011).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member Patrick J. Maloney, Buffalo, New York.

Plaintiff expert: Arthur Kaufman, quality assurance, Silver Spring, Maryland.

Defense experts: Michael P. Rade, surgery, Hamburg, New York, and Verna Gibbs, surgery, San Francisco.


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