WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- After years of suffering from pain caused by a sponge that was carelessly left in her stomach by hospital staff, a woman was awarded millions in damages by a jury in Kentucky.
- The ‘tragedy of errors’ took place in 2011 when during the woman’s surgery the doctor accidentally cut a vein near her kidney leading to a bloody mess.
- To clean off the mess, nurses used an 18-by-18 inch sponge that they unfortunately left in her intestines.
A Kentucky jury has awarded $10.5 million to a woman for her pain and suffering after nurses at the University of Louisville Hospital left a sponge inside her during heart surgery in 2011.
The incident occurred on March 10, 2011, when Carolyn Boerste who was 54 at the time underwent bypass surgery. The vascular surgeon, Dr. Marvin Morris, inadvertently cut a renal vein, causing a ‘bloody mess’, said Boerste’s lawyer. An 18-by-18 inch sponge was used by hospital staff to clean up the damage.
According to a nurse who testified, they didn’t perform a “lunch sponge count” or counting the number of sponges after surgery, a policy required by the hospital.
Initially, the surgery seemed successful, even improving blood flow to Boerste’s legs, who was a diabetic. But eventually, the sponge eroded into her intestine causing her gastrointestinal problems. Although a CT scan revealed the sponge, communication problems among the doctors resulted in Boerste never knowing about it, so it remained inside her for 20 more months.
Boerste finally learned about the sponge after increasing stomach pain led her to hospital visit in November 2016. But at the time, she developed a blister on her left heel that became worse despite two procedures.
As a result, the leg was amputated below the knee in July 2017. Though the defendants said that Boerste’s amputation was bound to happen due to her overall poor lifestyle choices and worsening diabetes, the jury unanimously disagreed and found that the hospital was at fault.
The verdict awarded $10.5 million in damages divided between the hospital, the surgeon and the doctors who failed to inform Boerste about the sponge after the CT scan results. Boerste’s lawyer said in an email to Louisville Courier-Journal that the verdict “restores some sense of dignity” to his client. He also sent a message to hospitals to ensure that sponges, needles and other sharp objects are removed after surgery.
Source: NY Daily News