Surgical Sponge Error Results in $375,000 Jury Verdict

In January 2004, 83-year old Clara Tucker entered DeKalb Medical Center to undergo aortofemoral bypass surgery. Initially, the surgery appeared to be successful. However, Clara continued to complain of severe abdominal pain and a foul body odor. Four years later, on December 17, 2008, she was re-admitted to DeKalb Medical Center and a CT scan revealed a mass near Tucker’s colon. On December 21, 2008, laparoscopic surgery was performed to remove “an old laparotomy pad with some purulent material around it that smelled like anaerobic pus,” according to the order.
The surgical team had incorrectly counted the number of surgical sponges and left one sponge inside her abdominal cavity. It took four years and severe pain, nausea, and infection to finally discover the medical error.
Last month, a DeKalb County jury found in favor of Clara Tucker and awarded her $375,000.