Woman awarded $500K after nurses left sponge in her abdomen

Woman awarded $500K after nurses left sponge in her abdomen

A Pennsylvania jury has awarded a woman more than $500,000 in her lawsuit against Lower Bucks Hospital and two nurses who left a sponge in her abdomen following a cesarean-section delivery.

The four-day trial before Judge Clyde Waite ended with a unanimous verdict in favor of Erin Webster, awarding her $525,269.

The jury found against Lower Bucks Hospital nurses Megan Blatcher and Laura Tedesco and the Bristol Township hospital. Defendant Dr. Richard Turner, who performed the C-section, was not found liable.

Webster's suit contended that the defendants acted negligently when they failed to remove a laparotomy sponge used during the March 30, 2004, surgery performed at Lower Bucks Hospital. The jury found that the nurses failed to properly perform a required sponge count, which is supposed to be performed three times - before surgery, before the abdomen is closed and when surgery is completed, according to Jack Cohen, Webster's attorney.

During the trial, Turner maintained that he relied on the accuracy of the sponge count the nurses did when making his decision to close the abdomen, Cohen added. The sponge involved resembles a piece of cheesecloth, Cohen said.

Following her delivery, Webster complained of continued and worsening pain in her abdomen, which was initially attributed to post-surgery pain.

On June 18, nearly two months after she gave birth, Webster went to St. Mary Medical Center in Middletown, complaining of severe pain. A CT scan of her abdomen and pelvis revealed a "lap sponge within the lower abdomen and upper pelvis which was most likely left during prior surgery," according to the suit.

Webster also had a severe infection where the sponge had adhered to a portion of her bowel, which was perforated in two spots, he said. She underwent surgery to remove 16 inches of her small bowel, Cohen said.

His client has continued experiencing complications and pain as a result of adhesions associated with the bowel surgery, he said. Adhesions are bands of scar tissue that can cause internal organs to stick together.

Two years after her initial surgery to correct the bowel perforation, Webster had a bowel obstruction, her lawyer said, and she continues to experience abdominal pain and has ongoing digestive problems. However, she was able to deliver a second child successfully by C-section, Cohen added.