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A Medical Malpractice Case for Leaving a Foreign Object Inside the Patient

To file a medical malpractice case where a foreign object has been left inside the patient, there are several aspects to be considered. They are:

  • Whether the foreign object was intended to stay in the patient.
  • If the object was intended to stay, and it has caused problems, then the patient can file a medical malpractice lawsuit within two and half years of the wrongdoing, which will be from the date when the foreign object was inserted.
  • If the foreign object was not intended to stay, the patient can file a lawsuit within one year from the date of discovery of the object, or one year from the date, the patient reasonably should have known that a foreign object was there in their body.

Not Able to Make a Baby

Let us take an example where the object was intended to stay in the patient. Robert, when he was nine years old, suffered an injury where his testicle twisted and cut off the blood supply. This condition is called testicular torsion, and he was rushed to emergency, where the doctor was able to untwist the testicle. However, before discharging the patient, the doctor put some stitches to attach the spermatic chord to the scrotum, in order to prevent this from happening again. After twenty-one years, at the age of thirty Robert found he could not conceive, and the doctor diagnosed a blockage in the spermatic chord due to the previous stitches.

Now, in Robert's case, the stitches were meant to be there, to prevent testicular torsion from happening again, which means the foreign object that are the stitches were intended to stay in the patient. However, even though the stitches caused a problem, Robert will be unable to file a medical malpractice case against his previous doctor because more than two and half years have elapsed since the wrongdoing.

In another case, part of a needle used to sew up Martha after a hernia surgery, broke off and the doctor could not find it. The doctor did not reveal the incident to the patient nor took any further steps to recover the needle left inside Martha's body. After four years, Martha suddenly developed intense back pain and consulted an orthopedic doctor. The doctor was unable to diagnose the cause of the pain and took an X-ray of her back. The x-ray revealed the needle quite clearly, and Martha had to undergo surgery to treat her backache.

The Time Factor Negated

In Martha's case the foreign object, which was part of a needle, was not meant to stay in the body. Even though more than two and half years have elapsed after the wrongdoing, she can still file a medical malpractice case against the hernia surgeon, provided she files the lawsuit within a year from the date of discovery, which will be the date when the orthopedic doctor took the x-ray. The statute of limitations for Martha will be based on the date of discovery, as the foreign object was not intended to stay in the body.

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