In February 2008, a woman underwent an elective hysterectomy at a Navy medical center. Not long after the procedure, she began to feel severe pain and discomfort in her abdomen, which was not an expected side effect of the procedure. She returned to the medical center several times, complaining of pain and pressure, but her symptoms were neither seriously investigated nor treated. In July 2009, more than one year after she had been experiencing pain, an emergency room doctor finally ordered a CT scan. The scan showed a foreign object in the woman's pelvis, which was later found to be a piece of a medical instrument used during the hysterectomy.
The 37-year-old woman ultimately underwent several additional medical procedures, including a second surgery, to remove the piece of forceps that had been left in her body. Now she has filed a products liability lawsuit against Gyrus ACMI Corp., which manufactured the disposable forceps that broke during her surgery. She has also filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the United States.
In January 2010, Gyrus ACMI issued a voluntary recall of the disposable Gyrus Forceps. However, it wasn't until September 2010 that the company admitted that the "shim" portion of the medical tool had broken off inside of the plaintiff. "The metal shim between the jaws may detach during the procedure and fall into the surgical field," the company said. "The detached shim may be undetected and be left behind in the patient."
After it was learned that the forceps malfunction was not uncommon, the United States began to indicate that it would vigorously defend itself against the claims of medical malpractice. In addition, the plaintiff's connection to the military is not yet known. Because negligence claims by an active military member against the U.S. are generally barred, this may affect the status of the case.
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Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Navy doctors left surgical instrument inside Maryland woman", Tricia Bishop, 30 March 2011