The Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog

Man Settles Medical Malpractice Lawsuit for Towels Left in Body

This story happened in New Philadelphia, but it could have easily happened in our old Philadelphia. A New Philadelphia, Ohio man won a $275,000 settlement in a medical malpractice lawsuit against the federal government for having towels left in body after surgery at a veterans hospital.

Robert Sanner, 47, had surgery at the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center in Cleveland to have a cancerous kidney removed, reports The Times-Reporter. But something didn’t feel right, and Sanner returned twice to the hospital complaining that he felt sick.

Finally, three months after the surgery, Sanner says that a CAT scan revealed that two 14-by-11-inch towels were left inside his body, reports the Times-Reporter. The towels were immediately removed and Sanner sued the hospital for malpractice.

Generally, to win a medical malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiff would have to show that the medical professional was negligent and that his or her conduct fell below generally accepted standard of medical care.

In Sanner's case, he presented a medical expert who wrote in an affidavit that surgeons Hui Zhu and Jason Jankowski violated standards of care by reporting that all items used during the surgery were accounted for, when clearly they were not, reports the Times-Reporter.

Instead of taking the lawsuit to trial, both sides agreed to settle. The hospital will pay Sanner $275,000. In addition, the hospital has adopted new technology to keep track of sponges and other surgical equipment through use of radio frequency identification chips. It's not clear if this second step was part of the settlement or if the hospital took this step on its own initiative.

Robert Sanner wins a medical malpractice lawsuit against a veterans hospital for towels left in his body post-surgery. Along with money, Sanner also helped ensure that similar accidents do not happen in the future.

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