Many people may think of spongy material when they hear of surgical sponges, but in fact, the material is gauze. When soaked with blood, surgical sponges may be extremely difficult to differentiate from body tissue and organs, even for trained professionals. Usually, one or more nurses have the task of counting all the sponges after the surgical procedure to ensure that medical personnel has removed all the gauze from the body cavity before closing the wound.

According to abc7.com, nurses may have failed to perform the count after a surgery went longer than expected. The surgeon reported that he accidentally cut one of the patient’s veins, resulting in a significant amount of blood that required a large portion of sponge to absorb. A medical malpractice lawsuit claimed that the retained sponge caused the patient significant suffering due to gastrointestinal complications.

The lawsuit against the hospital also claims that other providers knew about but failed to tell the patient of the sponge. A radiologist noticed the sponge in scan results and allegedly shared the information with a provider addressing another health concern. He stated that he did not remember the radiologist notifying him of the sponge. The patient’s regular provider also received the scan results and did not tell her.

A jury agreed that the case indicated extreme negligence and awarded the patient $1.4 million in compensation for medical expenses, $8 million for pain and suffering and $1 million in punitive damages. However, the hospital named in the lawsuit plans to appeal the outcome, which could delay the award by two years or more.

In cases such as these, many people rely on an attorney with experience in dealing with medical malpractice to seek justice.