By: Staff Writers | Published: November 14th, 2011
The medical malpractice complaint was filed in Black Hawk County District Court, in Iowa, by the family of Aldrick Kneppe, 89, who died three days after surgery at Allen Hospital in Waterloo, Iowa.
According to allegations raised in the complaint, a surgical sponge was left accidentally in Kneppe’s body after a bypass and heart valve replacement. He died of bleeding problems during a subsequent operation to remove the sponge.
Allen Hospital, Dr. James Wright III and Cedar Valley Medical Specialists are named as defendants in the medical malpractice lawsuit. According to a report by WCFCourier.com, the defendants claim that they are not to blame and suggest that Kneppe died due to existing health conditions.
Leaving a surgical sponge behind after a medical procedure is rare, but can pose serious and potentially fatal consequences. Precautionary measures like sponge counts, tracking bar codes and radiographic screening after operations can greatly reduce the risk.
According to a 2003 report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, there were about 1,500 cases a year in which a sponge or surgical tool was left behind after surgery. Approximately 88% of the cases involved a final count that was incorrect.
In many cases, forgotten surgical sponges left after surgery are not discovered for a number or years, when patients begin suffering from unexplained symptoms. The difficulty in detecting the surgical mistake has led most states to allow exeptions to the statute of limitations for medical malpractice suits in cases where a foreign object is left behind during surgery.