Gauze inside me can I win my medical malpractice claim?

Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I recently had a baby. The baby was large, and I had massive tearing. The doctor was unable to stop the bleeding. I guess he inserted gauze into my vaginal canal. I ended up leaving the hospital with gauze intact, without my knowledge. Over the next several days I developed a serious infection. Only after a second trip to the hospital and an examination from another doctor was the gauze located and removed. I did not suffer any permanent damage, but it seems like the doctor should have done a final examination of me prior to my hospital discharge. What recourse do I have for my injuries?”

Filing a medical malpractice claim

It’s not uncommon for doctors to place gauze-like sponges a woman’s vaginal canal after birth to stop the bleeding around the laceration site. What is unusual in your story is that the foreign material was not extracted prior to your hospital discharge. Unfortunately, the failure of the doctor and nurses to do this caused you pain and suffering, not only during the time the gauze remained in place, but also during the extraction.

There are have been other cases similar to yours and defendants have argued that “gauze-like material can be left in a patient's vagina during a vaginal delivery in the absence of negligence on the part of the physician.”   They also state that, unlike a surgical procedure involving an incision in a patient's body where sponges are placed in the incision, “in a vaginal delivery neither the doctor nor the nurses are required to account for all the sponges used in the procedure. The key difference in the two procedures is that the sponge-like objects may be easily removed from the vagina without further surgery.”

Without more information about the specifics of your case or what damages you suffered it’s impossible to say for sure how a court or jury might rule. The best course of action (if you believe you have a case) is to discuss your case with a medical malpractice lawyer.

With that in mind, however, let’s review some general information about filing a medical malpractice claim.

What do I have to prove to win my medical malpractice case?

Medical malpractice claims can be very difficult to win. Specifically, because you may need to hire expert witnesses who are willing to testify that the actions your doctor took did not meet the standards of reasonable care when compared to other doctors practicing in the same area with the same level of expertise as your doctor.

Other requirements you will need to prove to win your medical malpractice claim include the following:

  1. Duty exists between the plaintiff and the defendant.

The first element that you must prove in your medical malpractice case is that the doctor owed you a duty of care. If this was your doctor and you have an established pre-existing doctor patient relationship proving duty of care is not difficult.

  1. Your doctor breached their professional duty of care.

Proving your doctor breached their duty of care in your case might be a bit tougher. Although it’s generally accepted that no foreign object should be left in your body, leaving a sponge in the vaginal canal has been compared to a tampon and some doctors argue that it is not dangerous, especially if it is for only a limited period of time.

  1. Your doctor’s breach of duty was the proximate cause of your injuries.

Next, you will need to prove your doctor’s negligence or breach of duty was the proximate cause of your injuries. For example, it was the gauze not the massive tearing or other trauma that caused your infection.

  1. You have suffered loss or injury.

Finally, you will need to prove that you have suffered loss or injury. While it sounds like you did have some pain and suffering, you did not suffer any permanent damage. You also did not miss any work. Assuming you did win a personal injury claim, these factors would be considered when determining compensation.

Bottom Line:

Malpractice lawsuits are difficult to win. Even if you do win your case your award might be small if you cannot prove you suffered much loss. Talk to a lawyer for more information about your medical malpractice claim.




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