Sponges are the most frequently “retained” items of medical equipment after a surgical procedure, so it would be understandable to think that claiming compensation for a sponge left inside a patient during an operation was straightforward. Unfortunately that is not the case.
Although there is no justifiable defence against a claim for a retained sponge – especially now that the NHS National Patient Safety Agency has introduced a post-surgery checklist – it still has to be proven that the patient suffered a significant “adverse event” that would not otherwise have occurred.
If you believe that you have suffered a loss, an injury or the deterioration of an existing condition due to an item of medical equipment being left inside you during an operation, contact our Medical Negligence Advice Bureau to determine whether you are eligible to claim compensation for a sponge left inside a patient during an operation.
Claiming Compensation for a Sponge left Inside a Patient during an Operation
The consequences of a sponge left inside a patient during an operation can range from harmless to fatal. Most commonly the tell-tale signs of a retained sponge are pain surrounding the area of the sponge, infection and bowel obstruction. Retained sponges can sometimes be misdiagnosed as abscesses, so your doctor will request access to your medical records to see if there has been a misdiagnosis of your condition as well as medical negligence during your surgery.
If it can be demonstrated that you have suffered an adverse event directly attributable to a retained sponge, your solicitor will write to the NHS Trust or medical centre responsible for your care with a “Letter of Claim”. The letter advises the NHS Trust or medical centre that you are claiming compensation for a sponge left inside a patient during an operation and support your claim for a retained sponge with evidence prepared by an independent medical expert.
The NHS Trust/medical centre has ninety days to conduct its own investigation into your claim. Thereafter, as there is no justifiable defence against a claim for a retained sponge, your solicitor will negotiate a settlement of compensation for a sponge left inside a patient during an operation on your behalf, plus additional compensation if there has been a misdiagnosis of your condition.
The Settlement of your Claim for a Retained Sponge
The settlement of your claim for a retained sponge is usually broken down into four elements. The first element is for your pain and suffering, and your solicitor will refer to the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines for General Damages in Personal Injury Cases to obtain a figure, which will be adjusted to account for your age, your general state of health prior to your operation and – depending on the nature of the injury and its consequences – your gender
You are also entitled to recover compensation for a sponge left inside a patient during an operation if your injury prevents you from pursuing pastimes or social activities that formed part of your regular life prior to your operation. You will also be able to claim compensation for any identified psychological trauma you have experienced if, for example, you have been depressed or developed a fear of surgery as a result of your experience.
Finally, the settlement of your claim for a retained sponge will also include any costs you have incurred – or may incur in the future – due to your injury, including the cost of travel to and from hospital, the cost of carers if you have young children or elderly relatives you are responsible for, and the recovery of any lost income if you have been unable to work or may be unable to work in the future.
Further Information about Retained Medical Equipment due to Medical Negligence
As there many different scenarios in which you may – or may not – be eligible to claim compensation for a sponge left inside a patient during an operation, it is always recommended that you seek professional legal advice at the earliest possible opportunity. The failure to do so may influence your eligibility to make a claim for a retained sponge, especially if the medical negligence that caused your injury happened some time ago.
As mentioned above, we invite you to contact our Medical Negligence Advice Bureau and discuss your retained sponge injury with a medical negligence solicitor. Our solicitor will be able to answer any legal questions you may have about claiming compensation for a sponge left inside a patient during an operation and will guide you through the claims process as they apply in your particular situation.
Kindly note that you will not be under any obligation to proceed with a claim for compensation for a sponge left inside a patient during an operation and that all conversations with our solicitors are strictly confidential. Our aim is to provide you with impartial legal advice, so that you can make an informed choice about whether you have a compensation claim for a retained sponge that may be worth your while to pursue.