Items Left Behind After Surgery Cause Serious Problems

Larry Diener, a truck driver and hobby farmer who was told by his doctors that he needed colon surgery in 2014, underwent a colon resection at Sarah Bush Lincoln Hospital in Mattoon. Following the shoulder surgery, he got sick and took three rounds of antibiotics in 2018.

The doctor ordered a CT scan and it was discovered Diener had sponges in his body. In 2014, the surgery staff left two sponges in Diener’s body - one got attached to his colon and the other pressed on his diaphragm. “I got out of the hospital on April 30, and May 5th, four years was up,” he said. “End of story. No recourse. No nothing.” Here he is referencing the four-year statute of limitations in place for pursuing compensation after a medical malpractice injury.

“It’s not common, but it’s certainly more common than any of us would like,” Dr. John Mellinger, General Surgery Chair at SIU Medicine reported when asked about such incidents.
Mellinger added that the objects are mostly left behind after emergency or complex surgeries. This is more common in obese patients, and preventive strategies have been adopted by medical institutions, he said.

What Qualifies as Medical Malpractice?

A civil claim that allows a person injured by negligent medical care to hold the person(s) responsible for the injury accountable is a medical malpractice claim. There are four elements that must be established in a medical malpractice lawsuit:

  • Duty: The victim must show that the medical professional owed him or her a duty of care, for example, by establishing a patient-doctor relationship.
  • Breach: Next, the victim must show that the doctor failed to fulfill this duty. An expert testimony (from another physician) is often required.
  • Damage: The victim must provide proof of injury (medical records).
  • Causation: Finally, the victim needs to show that the physician’s error caused the injury.

When can an Injured Person File Suit?

Every state in the country has a statute of limitations law directing when a lawsuit can be filed. These events can determine the time of filing of the lawsuit:

  • Discovery: In Illinois, a victim can file a lawsuit for medical malpractice within two years after the injury is discovered.
  • Reasonable discovery period: The two-year limitation may not begin when the injury is actually discovered, but after the victim should have discovered the injury.
  • Cutoff date: Illinois also tolls the cutoff date four years after the procedure that led to the injury.

Exceptions include when the injury is incurred by a minor. Children may have a longer period to assert a claim, as well as those who are unable to assert their rights due to incapacitation.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

It is often wise to seek the counsel of an experienced attorney to better ensure your legal rights and remedies are protected after an injury. If you are experiencing injuries due to the negligence of a medical professional in the Arlington Heights, Libertyville, Chicago, Fox River Grove, or Itasca areas, call Newland & Newland, LLP at today at (847) 797-8000, or a fill out our online contact form.

(image courtesy of Piron Guillaume)

  • Newland & Newland LLP, Attorneys, Arlington Heights, IL
  • Lawyer.com