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Settlement Reached after Sponge, Meds Almost Kill Patient

For people who may be - for whatever reason - opposed to the idea that members of the medical profession should be held accountable for medical malpractice when the standard of care they deliver is clearly substandard, the following story might go far toward changing their minds.

Nelson E. Bailey is a Florida resident who had surgery at a West Palm Beach hospital last October for diverticulitis, a digestive disease. Following his operation, he felt worse.

Progressively worse, in fact. The reason why was discovered five months later, when doctors opened him back up and discovered that his original surgeon had left a 12-by-12-inch surgical sponge in his body. The sponge was rotting, and removing it also required removing a portion of Bailey's intestines.

That was not all. Following the first surgery, Bailey was given precisely the wrong medicine to recover: Rather than receiving meds to lower his blood pressure, he was prescribed medicine that speeded up his heart rate and almost resulted in him having a heart attack.

The Journal of Radiology calls objects left in patients' bodies following surgery a "highly underestimated problem," and estimates that some 1,500 patients in the United States each year end up as Bailey did - with something left behind, most commonly a sponge.

Bailey, who just coincidentally happens to be a judge, reached a private settlement with the hospital. As far as he is concerned, though, that is not the end of the matter. He plans to sue two radiologists and his surgeon, saying that, "I am not the same person I was before."

Related Resource: www.msnbc.com "Doctors find 1-square-foot sponge inside patient" September 15, 2010

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