Case # 4064 Medical Negligence - Failure to Remove Surgical Sponge Resulting in Septic Shock and Ultimately Death
On November 18, 2014, the Plaintiff’s Decedent, age 76, presented to the Defendant Hospital under the care of his general surgeon to remove rectal adenocarcinoma. At the time of the surgery a significant amount of bleeding was encountered due to injury to the left common iliac artery. The injury was recognized and a vascular surgeon was brought in to repair the artery.
At 6:45 p.m., an intra-abdominal x-ray was performed. At that time, the radiologist at the Defendant Hospital reported a radiopaque density superior to the iliac crest. The radiologist then communicated his finding to the Defendant Hospital’s personnel caring for the Plaintiff’s Decedent and was told that the radiopacity was external to the patient — meaning that the radiopacity showing on the x-ray was not in the surgical site.
At 9:45 p.m. that same evening, the Plaintiff’s Decedent underwent a chest x-ray for line placement. The radiologist reported an oblong radiopaque density measuring 16 millimeters, yet nothing was done to identify and remove the foreign body.
On November 22, 2014 at 3:50 p.m., an abdominal x-ray was performed for abdominal pain. The radiologist reported a radiopaque density at the level of the left iliac crest. Amazingly, the Defendant Hospital’s personnel failed to identify the foreign body and remove it. Rather, the Plaintiff’s Decedent was simply discharged on November 28, 2014, with no tests or studies to determine the identity of the foreign body and no intervention.
On October 15, 2015, the Plaintiff’s Decedent presented to the Defendant Hospital’s emergency department with complaints of abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Shortly thereafter, he was found to be hypotensive with a blood pressure of 85/42. He was admitted to the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) with a diagnosis of possible sepsis.
It was felt that an abdominal foreign body could be responsible. At 2:45 p.m., a computed tomography (CT) scan of the abdomen and pelvis with oral contrast was completed. Again, the radiopaque foreign matter was seen.
Accordingly, on October 16, 2015, the general surgeon took the Plaintiff’s Decedent to an operating room for an exploratory laparotomy. The retained foreign body (which had not been previously removed), had eroded through the bowel wall such that fecal matter was spilling into the abdomen. Near the end of the surgery, the Plaintiff’s Decedent became tachycardic and hypotensive, and at the conclusion of the surgery he was moved to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Tragically, the Plaintiff’s Decedent was noted to be unstable overnight. His condition continued to deteriorate until October 18, 2015, at which time he coded. He was resuscitated but coded again, and could not be revived. Accordingly, at 10:37 a.m., the Plaintiff’s Decedent was pronounced dead due to the septic shock he suffered resulting from the Defendant Hospital’s negligent failure to timely remove the surgical sponge.