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Veteran files medical malpractice suit for left-behind scalpel

On Behalf of | Jan 24, 2018 | Medical Malpractice

New York patients place an enormous amount of trust in their health care providers when undergoing surgery or other invasive procedures. Unfortunately, that trust is sometimes misplaced. An Army veteran is pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit after a surgical tool was left inside of him after surgery.

The 61-year-old veteran sought care in March 2017 after he suffered an unnerving dizzy spell. Attending doctors decided to perform an MRI on the man’s head, but they were never able to complete the test. During the examination, he suffered sudden and severe abdominal pain that prompted doctors to halt the procedure and perform an X-ray instead. The results showed that a scalpel was lodged in his midsection. It had been left behind after his prostate surgery, which he had undergone four years prior.

This man’s case is sadly not uncommon. Experts from the National Institutes of Health estimate that surgeons leave behind tools in their patients about 1,500 times every year. However, a 2013 review of various government data, legal records and academic studies puts the number of surgical tools sewn into patients at anywhere from 4,500 to 6,000 times a year. The reason for these abandoned tools? According to the NIH, a breakdown in communication and insufficient organization.

Perhaps even more upsetting about this veteran’s case is that he made multiple complaints about abdominal pain after his surgery, but those complaints went largely ignored. His medical malpractice suit seeks compensation for his injuries, and he is not the only one making a claim. His wife is also suing the hospital — action that New York spouses may also take — alleging that her husband’s injuries caused her to lose out on his services, company and affections.

Source:, “Scalpel found in Army vet’s gut 4 years after VA hospital surgery”, Derek Hawkins, Jan. 16, 2018