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Surgeon leaves gauze in patient, who suffers for a year

While the following story did not occur here in Illinois, the circumstances of one Canadian woman’s surgery (and the unfortunate aftermath) could happen to anyone in the US.

The 52-year-old woman went in for a double mastectomy in 2012, and the surgery was a success — at least on the surface. As the woman was recovering, she felt extreme pain on her chest. A wound where the surgery was performed was only getting worse. She waited for 18 days as the wound continually got bigger and more enflamed.

Finally, a second surgery was performed to figure out what had gone wrong with the woman’s double mastectomy. It became immediately clear to the surgeons: someone had left two rolls of gauze in her chest and then sewed her back up.

A total breakdown in communication and reporting — a complete systemic failure — resulted in this woman suffering immensely, and she says she still hasn’t fully recovered from the incident. She is calling for better patient protections so that this sort of thing doesn’t happen again.

What makes this story important is that, while the circumstances of this botched surgery may seem ridiculous, surgical errors like this happen all too frequently. People have their lives changed because a surgeon performed the wrong procedure, or because utensils were left inside the patient. This is, obviously, substandard care — and the victimized patient should consider all of his or her legal options. Depending on how the surgical error, the surgeon and hospital could be held liable for the incident.

Source: Calgary Herald, “Medical error ‘robbed me of a year of my life’,” Jamie Komarnicki, Aug. 27, 2013


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