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Indiana Woman Dies From Surgical Pad Left in After Surgery, Widower Sues

The death of an Indiana woman due to a foreign object left in her body after surgery has resulted in a multi-million dollar verdict.

According to reports, the victim was receiveing bypass surgery and a valve replacement when a surgical pad was left in her chest cavity. She died five weeks later.

An Indianapolis court awarded the deceased victim's widower $2.2 million. The verdict, however, was reduced to $1.25 million by the judge, in accordance with the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act.

Defense lawyers did not contest that medical malpractice had occurred, but  lawyers argued that the value of the case should have been lower because the victim was 68 years old and had a decreased life expectancy, due, in part, to heart disease and a liver transplant.

The woman reportedly had a history of fatty liver, which led to the transplant and, eventually, heart disease. With the exception of the pad left behind, surgeons considered the bypass and valve replacement a success.

Roughly 30 days later, however, the misplaced item was found stuck to her heart. During a subsequent surgery to remove the pad, multiple perforations occurred.

Multi-system organ failure followed and the victim died five weeks later after much discomfort.

Hospital officials blamed the operating surgeon for failing to remove the pad, while the surgeon blamed hospital staff. Ultimately, a medical review panel ruled on liability.

The damages case was then tried against the Patient's Compensation Fund. A trial began in June 2009 with Tony Patterson of Parr Richey Obremskey Frandsen & Patterson representing the plaintiff.

The outcome can be counted as a victory for the people of Indiana.

Hoosiers have every right to expect that the medical care they receive will help them, or at least not hurt them. Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals bear the burden of proper diagnosis and treatment.

They receive specialized education and training and are experts in their given field. Patients often have very little knowledge of the complex systems of the human body and they inherently place their trust in medical professionals.

In this case, the patient paid the ultimate price for a doctor's negligence. Her husband will never regain his spouse or return to his normal life.

Victims of medical malpractice are often entitled to compensation for medical benefits as a result of erroneous treatment. They may also receive repayment of lost wages and even be paid for their pain and suffering, past and present.

Incidents of retained surgical instruments are alarmingly common. This most recent case makes it clear that the victims of medical malpractice have the right to fight back.


If you've been injured or sickened by the actions of a doctor or nurse, you need an experienced Indiana medical malpractice attorney. Contact the law offices of Keller & Keller to get the help you need.

Jim Keller
Partner at Keller & Keller
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