Medical Verdicts

Towel left in abdomen found 8 years later


US District Court (Utah) District of Utah

After undergoing a total abdominal hysterectomy, a woman in her thirties noted feeling bloated and unwell. She was told these symptoms were not uncommon and was discharged 5 days later.

Eight years following the surgery, a surgical towel was discovered in her abdomen. It was surgically removed.

In suing, the woman alleged that the doctor and staff involved with the hysterectomy were negligent in using a towel without a radio-opaque marker. She further argued that the clinicians did not properly count the materials used in the procedure.

The doctor denied responsibility, claiming that the nurses or technicians were responsible for accounting for all towels. The defendants also alleged that the towel may have been left in her abdomen during earlier cesarean sections, and noted that any injuries stemming from the towel were unlikely to be serious.

  • The case against the hospital settled for $150,000. The claim against the doctor went to trial; a jury found the hospital personnel responsible. The plaintiff has appealed the verdict.
The cases presented here were compiled by Lewis L. Laska, editor of Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts ( While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.

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