When we go to the doctors, we trust their medical expertise in hopes that they make the best choice for our overall health. However, after one patient at a California hospital received terrifying news that a large mass was found inside his stomach, doctors were more than embarrassed to find the real cause of his discomfort.
The unidentified patient had undergone surgery at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, California, in April of 2014. Although the initial reason for the procedure was undisclosed, a few weeks after the surgery, the patient reportedly felt like he was dying.
“By 5/10/14, l had lost 43 pounds, my bowels were not working right, I had no energy, no stamina, and I felt like I might not live,” the patient recalled, according to My Fox 28. As any patient would do, he had returned to their doctor to report the issues regarding their body following the procedure. The doctor immediately called for more testing, and it was quickly determined that there was a large abdominal mass inside of his body.
“I was so scared when I was told about the abdominal mass because I knew something was wrong and I thought I must be full of cancer,” the patient stated, according to ABC 13.
Upon further investigation, it was discovered that the surgeons had made a terrible mistake and had left a blue towel inside the patient’s stomach during the initial surgery. Although it is standard protocol for doctors and nurses in the operating room to keep count of medical tools used during surgery and ensure all are accounted for before closing the surgical patient, it appears that the medical staff did not keep track of the blue towels. As a result, the hospital changed its protocol after it nearly cost this patient his life but was still rightfully fined $86,000 for their inexcusable error. And, it may end up costing them a lot more.
“I think the hospital is on the line,” KFSN legal analyst Tony Capozzi explained. “Not only for penalties from the state but a lawsuit that is going to show, I believe, very gross, gross negligence in this case. Which may open them up to punitive damages to punish them for what happened.”
Capozzi says investigators made it clear, the hospital can do better in accounting for what is present and what is accounted for prior to and following every medical procedure. [Source: ABC 13]
“In the report, the state says this was a preventable action that caused emotional distress, psychological injury, pain suffering, for this particular patient,” Capozzi said. “But for what happened at that hospital, he should not have gone through all the agony.”
The hospital recently released a statement saying, “As a result of this regrettable incident, we completed corrective steps that were approved by the state.” They have implemented a new towel counting process that has been set in place for surgeries to help eliminate the chance of this catastrophic mistake from ever occurring again.
It’s a shame that the patient underwent weeks of physical and emotional agony solely because of the negligence of his surgeon. Of course, this doesn’t include the additional trauma he endured after hearing there was a “mass” growing inside of him. We are all human and make mistakes, but we also need to correct our mistakes.