Home >  News >  June, 2014

Left Behind for 4 Years: Sponge Leads to Misery, Litigation

Patient says she was repeatedly misdiagnosed.

Published: June 20, 2014

A sponge left inside a California woman cost her several years of misery and misdiagnoses, and might end up costing a hospital, 3 physicians and 2 radiologists, as well.

Carol Critchfield, 63, is suing Simi Valley (Calif.) Hospital, the surgeons who performed her hysterectomy in 2007, an ER physician, and 2 radiologists who detected the presence of a metallic object on an X-ray taken 2 days after her surgery, but who failed to report their finding up the chain of command, her lawyer, Steven C. Gambardella, told Outpatient Surgery. Mr. Gambardella declined to identify the physicians and radiologists named in the suit.

According to news reports, over the 4 years that followed her surgery, Ms. Critchfield suffered nausea, constant thirst, vaginal bleeding, blurry vision and abdominal pain, and was variously diagnosed with severe constipation, gastrointestinal distress and an ovarian cyst. In 2011, when her ovaries were removed, the sponge was discovered. She says it had become "encased with scar tissue," which required that a "large amount of [her] intestine" be removed, as well.

The hospital reported the incident in 2011 and was fined $25,000 in 2012.

A statement released by the hospital reads in part, "We take our responsibility to our patients very seriously, which is why we self-reported this incident. … This event occurred in 2007 and since that time, we have implemented additional processes that further promote patient safety."

The cap for malpractice damages is $250,000 per patient in California, a figure that has remained the same since the 1970s. A measure that would raise the cap to $1 million is on the state's November ballot.

Jim Burger


Also in the News...

Surgeons Remove Thyroid Gland by Making 3 Small Incisions Inside the Mouth Underneath Lower Lip
Anesthesiologist Dealing with Fallout Following Racially Insensitive Facebook Post About First Lady
Bill Promotes Pricing Transparency and Protects Physicians From EHR Penalties
Donald Trump Picks Staunch Obamacare Critic Tom Price, MD, as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services
Appendectomy Patients Don't Need an Overnight Stay
A Look Back at OR Excellence
Drug-Resistant Fungus Linked to 4 Deaths in U.S. Hospitals

New to Outpatient Surgery Magazine?
Sign-up to continue reading this article.
Register Now
Have an account? Please log in:
Email Address:
  Remember my login on this computer

advertiser banner

Other Articles That May Interest You

Was it Hospital's Fault Knee Replacement Patient Fell in Parking Lot?

Mistrial fails to answer question.

Whistleblowers: GI Docs Had "No H&P, No Problem" Mentality

CRNAs say they were fired after raising safety concerns.

Study: Lack of Access to Surgery a Global Crisis

Routine procedures could save millions of lives annually.