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Woman claims lap pad was left behind during C-section – Defense Verdict

Plaintiff underwent a repeat cesarean section delivery on March 15, 2006. The delivery was complicated by a left uterine artery laceration. All documented sponge/ lap pad counts were correct.

In July 2009, plaintiff developed abdominal pain that became so severe she presented to the emergency department on Aug. 15, 2009. Emergent exploratory laparotomy revealed massive pelvic-abdominal adhesions and an approximately 6 x 6 cm mass encased by omentum and adherent to a loop of small bowel, part of the cecum, the appendix and the right fallopian tube. During removal, the mass opened and revealed a surgical lap pad inside. Plaintiff developed sepsis, hypotension, tachycardia, peritonitis and ARDS.

In March 2010, plaintiff underwent a laparoscopic incisional hernia repair with mesh, which she claimed was made necessary by the retained lap pad and the August 2009 surgery to remove same. Post-operatively, she returned urgently to the hospital with complaints of difficulty breathing and was diagnosed with post-operative pneumonia.

In April 2012, plaintiff underwent a second hernia repair, which she claimed she delayed because of fear of surgery and surgical complications. Plaintiff claimed ongoing constant abdominal pain with associated limitations in her activities.

Plaintiff alleged that the lap pad was left behind during the March 2006 cesarean section. She claimed that the defendant OB/GYN failed to ensure that the OR staff performed accurate sponge counts and failed to properly account for all sponges/pads used during the c-section. Plaintiff alleged in the alternative that if the lap pad had been left behind during a prior surgery, the defendant nonetheless was negligent by failing to perform an appropriate intra-operative survey of the abdomen during the March 2006 c-section. She asserted that had he performed the required survey, he would have seen the lap pad, which the standard of care then required him to remove.

Defendant countered that he used the lap pads appropriately during the c-section and that it was reasonable for him to have relied upon the sponge counts performed by the OR staff. Defendant’s expert also testified that if the lap pad had been left behind during a prior surgery, the standard of care did not require the defendant to have located it, as it would not have been readily visible during the c-section given the location in which it eventually was found.

The case was submitted to the jury on day four of trial. The jury returned a defense verdict after two hours of deliberations. Plaintiff has not filed post-trial motions or a notice of appeal.


Type of action: Medical malpractice
Injuries alleged: Retained laparotomy pad, sepsis, surgery to remove pad, post-operative complications including ARDS, incisional hernia, multiple hernia repair surgeries and chronic pain
Court: Fairfax County Circuit Court
Tried before: Jury
Judge: Lorraine Nordland
Date: July 19, 2012
Special damages: Approximately $100,000 in medical expenses
Demand: None
Offer: None
Verdict or settlement: Defense verdict
Attorneys for defendant: Susan L. Mitchell and Matthew D. Banks, Fairfax
Insurance carrier: The Doctors Company

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