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Doctor leaves surgical instrument inside cancer patient

Most people assume that after they undergo surgery their health problem will be solved or at least they will be on the road to recovery. It rarely occurs to them that they might wake up after an operation with unbearable pain that is later discovered was caused by a surgical instrument that was left inside their body.

Miami, Florida, residents should be aware that these horrific surgical errors occur often enough to cause concern. In fact, nationwide, one out of every 19,000 operations ends with a foreign object left inside the patient after surgery.

A recent medical malpractice lawsuit filed in Texas paints a perfect example of this unfortunate scenario. A man underwent surgery for stomach cancer but immediately afterwards started having abdominal pain. Three days after the operation, he came down with a fever.

Scans showed an eight-inch-long, two-inch-wide retractor inside the man's abdomen that required another surgery to remove. The man's lawsuit alleges that the retractor perforated his duodenal stump causing an abscess, an infected abdominal cavity and sepsis.

The man was hospitalized for 17 days and lost 25 percent of his body weight. The man claims that his weight loss and nutritional condition has prevented him from continuing his chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

The hospital offered an unknown settlement amount to the man prior to when his medical malpractice lawsuit was filed, but the settlement offer was declined.

Incidents like this are a terrifying reality. Yet, medical operations are a health necessity. Medical malpractice lawsuits can ensure that victims receive the compensation they deserve and that health professionals will be deterred from neglecting their duty of care.

Source: KWTX.com, "Man Sues Scott & White Over Surgical Glitch," Megan Fleetwood, April 2, 2012

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