My doctor left something inside of me- can I bring a claim?
Rarely, a doctor will accidentally leave some foreign object, such as a sponge or surgical instrument, closed up inside your body without your knowledge. The “clock” on how long you have to bring a claim does not start running until you detect it or should have detected it. For example, a surgical clamp or needle can stay inside your body for years without causing any trouble that would alert you to the fact it is there. A broken surgical needle can migrate around your chest or abdomen for years and cause strange symptoms without the victim realizing what is causing them. On the other hand, a gauze sponge in your abdomen, or dye injected into your spinal column, will probably cause a lot of trouble almost immediately. In a New Hampshire case, the doctors committed medical malpractice by failing to deliver the entire placenta after the birth of a baby. That resulted in the patient having to undergo a hysterectomy. The doctors committed further malpractice by sewing up a gauze sponge inside the patient. The sponge caused serious infections over the next two or three years, but the same doctors, still treating her, either did not know or did not tell her what it was. She finally became so ill that she went to a hospital in Boston where the sponge was found and removed. But, by that time, it was too late, and she died leaving three orphans.
When her family filed a lawsuit, the doctors’ lawyers claimed the case was over the time limit, because the deceased lady and her family should have known something was wrong much earlier. However, the court held that her confidence in her doctors meant that the statute of limitations was tolled – “frozen” – until the sponge was discovered and removed in Boston. If the doctors had advised doing an exploratory operation to find the cause of the trouble, and she had ignored that advice for more than two years, it might have been a different story.
No patient can be criticized for continuing to have blind faith in a doctor even though he or she may have serious doubts about the doctor’s competence or performance. It is not a defense to a charge of medical malpractice to say the patient should have suspected something was wrong and consulted another doctor. The doctor is the expert; it is his or her duty to refer the patient to another doctor, if referral is indicated. That said, the only way to prevent further injury and to ensure that your rights are fully exercised – is to act quickly. Hesitating just a little too long can mean the difference between a fair judgment and zero recovery.
If you or a loved one have been injured as the result of a surgery, medication, or other medical treatment, and believe your injury may have been the product of medical malpractice, you need an attorney that has experience in dealing with medical malpractice claims by your side to make sure you receive all the benefits and compensation you are entitled to as a result of your injury. You need experienced and aggressive attorneys like Dan Newlin & Partners to help you get everything to which you may be entitled. Call us at (407) 888-8000 for a free consultation and to have all your questions answered regarding your injury.