A woman has been awarded $10.5 million (£8m) in damages after medical staff left a sponge inside her body.
The sponge – which measured 18-by-18 inches and was left behind during surgery – was inside the woman’s body for years before she realised.
It had been left in her body after she underwent heart surgery at a Kentucky hospital in 2011. The bypass surgery is said to have gone wrong, leaving a mess – and as nurses rushed to deal with the problems, the sponge was left inside her body.
It was not discovered for four years, until she had a CT scan in 2015.
In the meantime, the sponge had moved around the woman’s body, shifting around her intestines and causing pain as it did so. She had her leg amputated and was left with gastrointestinal issues after the sponge eroded into her intestine.
Carolyn Boerste was given about $8m for pain and suffering, $1m in punitive damages and $1.4m in medical expenses following legal proceedings in Kentucky, according to the local Courier Journal.
The hospital had initially claimed that the sponge had actually been inside of Ms Boerste for much longer, since another operation in 1988, the paper reported. It has said it will appeal the decision and blamed the loss of Ms Boerste’s leg on other health problems.
Her lawyers said the case should be a reminder to hospitals to ensure that objects such as needles and other sharp objects, as well as sponges, are removed from patients after surgery.