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Blue towel found inside victim of surgical errors

Any Oregon resident who has watched a television show or movie involving a surgical procedure has seen the blue towels that they drape over patients. These towels are not the same ones that are used internally on patients during surgical procedures, which most people know more commonly as sponges. Despite the fact that these blue towels are not ordinarily used inside a patient during a procedure, that is what was found inside a man in another state who claims he was the victim of surgical errors.

On April 8, 2014, the man underwent surgery to remove his prostate and bladder. After the procedure, medical personnel took an x-ray because of an incorrect surgical count of scissors. Nothing was found at that time, and the medical staff was confident that everything went as planned.

In the two months following the operation, the man lost a considerable amount of weight, was listless and felt as though he was going to die. An abdominal scan showed a mass. The California man feared that he had cancer, and surgery was scheduled for July 7, 2014, with a different surgeon than the one who performed the original operation. When he was opened up, the surgeon found the blue towel.

The hospital where the original procedure was performed was fined, but that does not preclude the victim from filing a claim for medical malpractice. As would be the case here in Oregon for anyone who suffered from surgical errors, the court must first be satisfied that negligence occurred. If it is established that his care did not meet accepted medical standards, he would be awarded damages to help with the monetary losses and other damages he has sustained.

Source:, "The fine for leaving a towel inside a patient during surgery? $86,625", Barbara Anderson, Jan. 29, 2016

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