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Cape Code Hospital Loses Key Evidence in Massachusetts Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Alleging Surgical Malpractice

Key evidence in the Massachusetts medical malpractice case filed by a woman who went blind after undergoing sinus surgery at Cape Code Hospital has disappeared. The medical malpractice trial is slated to begin next week.

The missing evidence consists of absorbent gauze, sutures, and a latex glove finger that were involved in the surgical malpractice incident. Plaintiff Jeannine Cullen underwent sinus surgery at the hospital in November 2001.

During the procedure, the packing material was inserted in Cullen’s throat and experienced a loss of oxygen that eventually resulted in her loss of vision. The packing material, considered key evidence in the case, was being held in a safe in the hospital’s Pathology Department.

Last week, however, hospital officials discovered that the evidence was no longer n their possession. At a hearing in Barnstable Superior Court on Tuesday, a physician’s assistant in the hospital’s pathology lab expressed worries that a cleaning crew may have thrown out the surgical packing material last year.

Leaving Surgical Tools in Patients
The Center for Devices and Radiological Health and the Food and Drug Administration say that at least 1500 surgical patients a year leave the hospital with surgical tools that were accidentally inserted inside them during operations.

Surgical tools that have been found in patients following a procedure include clamps, tweezers, medical gauze, gloves, sponges, electrodes, and other medical equipment. Having these tools in the body can be dangerous to the patient, who could end up with serious personal injuries, including infection, organ damage, and death.

Hospital loses lawsuit evidence, Cape Cod Times, October 8, 2008
Surgical Tools Left in 1,500 Patients Per Year, ChiropracticSearch.org

Related Web Resources:

Cape Cod Hospital

Medical Malpractice Overview, Justia