Surgeon Not Liable for Retained Sponge
Jury rejects patient's allegations of negligent care.
Published: January 16, 2013
A Kentucky jury has rejected a patient's claims that an ENT surgeon left a surgical sponge in her nasal cavity following a complex operation.
Glenna Disney underwent surgery in September 2007 to remove a tumor from her pituitary gland. The delicate procedure was performed by Somerset, Ky.-based neurosurgeon Guy Sava, MD. Due to the procedure's nasal access, Dr. Sava was assisted in the procedure by ENT surgeon Rick Gross, MD, formerly of Somerset and now practicing in Yakima, Wash.
After the surgery, Ms. Disney suffered from pain and an infection in her nasal cavity. At 8 weeks post-op, another ENT physician removed what Ms. Disney's lawsuit said was Merocel nasal packing from the cavity. She sued Dr. Sava and Dr. Gross over the retained object, citing a failure to meet standards of care and seeking the cost of treatment and $85,000 in damages.
Dr. Sava settled with the patient for an undisclosed amount before the case went to trial in 2012. At the trial, Dr. Gross explained that while he'd used 2 Merocel sponges during the case, he had removed both of them. Another ENT surgeon who served as an expert witness for the defense argued that the retained object was most likely not Merocel packing, but material left behind by another surgical team member.
After a 3-day trial, the jury concluded on Oct. 3, 2012, that Dr. Gross was not at fault for the incident and had not violated standards of care.
Ms. Disney's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for an interview. Dr. Gross's attorney declined comment.
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