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MD: "she had no complaints because I have no notes".

FOLLOWING HYSTERECTOMY, a 49-year-old woman complained of abdominal pain, fever, chills, and nausea. She continued to complain of the same symptoms on multiple visits to her physician. She also called him to report that her abdomen was painful to the touch. After one such call, the physician prescribed an antibiotic.

A routine x-ray of the patient's prosthetic hip 5 months after the hysterectomy showed a surgical sponge in her abdomen. She reported this finding to the defendant, who then left a voicemail that (1) he was away, (2) she could live to 100 years old with that sponge inside her, and (3) she should return for a consultation in a few weeks.

Instead she sought the care of another physician.

A month later, she developed a bowel obstruction. In emergency surgery, the sponge was removed as it had created an abscess and bowel obstruction. After the surgery, the patient recovered and had no further abdominal complaints.

* PATIENT'S CLAIM The physician was negligent for leaving the sponge in the abdomen and for failing to follow up on her consistent complaints of abdominal pain.

* PHYSICIAN'S DEFENSE The nurses were responsible for a proper sponge count. Also, the patient did not complain of pain after surgery--because he had no notes stating that she did.

* VERDICT $4,904,886 Maryland verdict, which was reduced by caps to $1,329,886.

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Article Details
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Publication:OBG Management
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2009
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