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Lawsuit against VA: Medical equipment left inside the victim

Surgeons are supposed to be some of the most highly trained and experienced of all health care professionals. Simply put, lives depend on their skills. One of the most upsetting types of surgical error may be cases involving medical equipment left inside the victim, since there are safeguards in place to prevent such egregious, life-threatening mistakes. If individuals can't rely on their doctors to follow such protocols, who can they trust?

A recently filed medical malpractice lawsuit in a state neighboring Rhode Island addresses this very issue. When the plaintiff began experiencing dizzy spells, he sought treatment at his nearby Veterans Affairs hospital. Halfway through his appointment, doctors were forced to stop the examination when the patient was hit with severe abdominal pain.

An X-ray was performed, revealing the image of a surgical instrument that had apparently been abandoned inside the man during a previous operation. The scalpel is alleged to be the same one used on him four years prior during a prostate surgery he underwent at the same hospital. According to reports, following the robotic-assisted prostate cancer treatment, the victim had complained afterwards of long-term abdominal pain, but the surgical instrument was never discovered until the hospital visit.

The lawsuit seeks to hold the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs accountable on allegations of negligence and is requesting an unspecified amount in compensatory damages. While the courts will ultimately decide liability, the lawsuit states that the health care officials involved did admit fault. According to legal records and academic studies, cases involving medical equipment left inside the victim occur up to 6,000 times on an annual basis. If anyone in Rhode Island has suffered or lost a love one due to situations involving this or any other type of surgical or medical error, an experienced Providence-area attorney can offer insight into possible legal options.

Source: The Washington Post, "An Army vet found a scalpel in his gut 4 years after VA hospital surgery", Derek Hawkins, Jan. 16, 2018

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