More than a dozen times every single day, a doctor in the U.S. sews up his or her patient with sponges and other supplies still inside the patient’s body. Yet, this type of error is what is known in the community as “never event” – as in, it’s never supposed to happen.
And yet, here we are, with thousands of people suffering these injuries every year. Many of those cases involve gauzy material known as surgical sponges. If patients are lucky, the mistake is caught early. But even then, at minimum, he or she has to undergo corrective surgery, which is invasive and carries many of its own risks. In other situations, plaintiffs may suffer for years and not know the cause. They may become violently ill, suffer permanent disability and even death.
In a case recently out of Connecticut, Cefaratti v. Aranow, a woman sought to hold accountable the surgeon who had left a sponge inside her during gastric bypass surgery years earlier. Although there is a statute of limitations on medical malpractice cases, there are exceptions made when discovery of the problem is delayed because the plaintiff did not realize there was an injury or its cause or who was at-fault. Even then, there is sometimes a firm cut-off date, known as the “statute of repose.” Continue reading