Retained Sponge: Hospital and Surgeon Have Independent Duties to Remove Objects

June 6, 2018 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​In a malpractice lawsuit against a hospital and a surgeon, the Supreme Court of Mississippi, considering the state's jurisprudence and the legal approach of numerous other jurisdictions, held that a surgeon has a nondelegable duty to remove all sponges used in surgery and that a hospital has an independent or concurrent duty to account for the sponges. In so ruling, the court held that the trial court provided erroneous and confusing instructions to the jury, requiring reversal of the defense verdict the jury had rendered. The supreme court returned the case to the trial court for further proceedings.

A retained surgical sponge was removed from the plaintiff's abdomen nearly seven years after she had open gallbladder surgery. The sponge was detected on an abdominal scan ordered when the patient...

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