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Medical error: An Australian patient lived with a sponge in the abdominal cavity for 15 years and suffered from severe abdominal pain and fever
An Australian lived for almost 15 years with severe abdominal pain and fever attacks: a doctor had forgotten a large sponge in the abdominal cavity during a medical procedure. Now the victim sued her surgeon at the time for compensation. He said, "The operation was far too long ago."
Doctor left sponge in patient's abdomen
A medical mistake that does not occur every day. The then young Australian Helen O’Hagan had to undergo an intestinal operation in 1992. The operation as such is carried out thousands of times a day. But even after the actually harmless procedure, the patient simply did not feel better. Since then she has suffered from constant fever attacks, abdominal cramps, diarrhea and recurrent abdominal pain. The state of health simply did not want to improve. The victim attributed the seizures to the original diagnosis and would never have thought in life that there might be a medical error. The after-treatments never led to a result.
The sponge was discovered on X-ray
It was only in 2007 that the victim undertook a saving x-ray of the abdomen. The doctors were amazed to find that there was a grapefruit-sized sponge in the abdominal cavity. In the meantime, the sponge had already interwoven with the body tissue of those affected. On the same day of the finding, the foreign body was surgically removed from the patient's abdomen, as the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported on Monday.
Patient sued doctor for damages
The operational error now has legal consequences. The surgeon who operated on O'Hagan at the time is now being sued for damages. When asked by an Australian newspaper, the accused doctor said that he was retired and that "too much time has passed since the operation". He could hardly remember it. But the competent court saw it differently. After all, the patient had had to deal intensively with her suffering since then. First of all, she should have dealt with the suffering, so that a late report would be understandable, according to the presiding judge. The Australian had to be treated in a clinic a total of 23 times since 1979. It was only in May of this year that it was unequivocally confirmed that the complaints came from the forgotten sponge. If convicted, the doctor must be prepared for a high sum of damages. (sb)
Image: Rolf van Melis / pixelio.de