Man Sues California Hospital For Sponge Left In Body After Surgery

Each year, almost 1500 people in the U.S. have surgical instruments accidently left inside of them after surgery, according to a study.A California man has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the Novato Community Hospital after claiming physicians left a surgical sponge in his abdomen following a procedure nearly 10 years ago.

The plaintiff, Ronald Alvos, said he had surgery at the medical center in 2003 or 2004 and the sponge was seen during an abdominal imaging scan in April of this year. Alvos reportedly had the scan performed for surgery on an abdominal abscess.

Alvos filed the lawsuit in Marin Superior Court and seeks unspecified damages. Ken August, a spokesman for the California Department of Public Health, told the Marin Independent Journal that the Novato Community Hospital has no record of leaving an object inside of a patient. He declined to confirm whether Alvos' case was under review.
The newspaper said Marin General Hospital was fined $25,000 in 2009 for leaving a sponge inside a patient after an emergency surgery in 2007. In 2010, the hospital was fined once again after a sponge was left in a patient following a Caesarean section surgery in 2009.

About 1,500 people in the U.S. have surgical objects accidentally left inside them after surgery each year, according to a 2007 Loyola University study. About two-third of those objects are sponges, which may lead to pain, infection, bowel obstructions and in some cases, death.