$386,500 VERDICT

Failure to remove laparotomy pad after surgery - Adhesions - Bowel urgency.

Monmouth County

The female plaintiff in her early 40's contended that the defendants circulating and scrub nurse negligently failed to properly count the laparotomy pads after an abdominal hysterectomy was performed to treat endometreosis. The Court granted a platantiff's verdict on liability against the nurses at the close of evidence holding that the unrebutted testimony reflected deviations. The plantiff further contended that the defendant obsterical surgeon negligently failed to read the post-op x-ray which he ordered and contended that he had done so, he clearly would have seen the radio-opaque pad. The radiologist, who was also named as a defendant, had issued a report in which he characterized the pad as a drain. The surgery did not entail the use of a drain.

The plantiff contended that the defendant ob/gyn negligently failed to read this report and maintained that had he done so, he would have realized that the mistaken description of a drain referred to the pad. The radiologist argued that the plantiff's expert general surgeon had indicated that he could not offer an opinion as to a radiological deviation and the radiologist's motion for dismissal was granted. The ob/gyn contended that the cause of the retained pad was the failwe of the nurses to properly conduct the count. The plaintiff further established that a second, non-party radialiogist had advised the ob/gyn that he detected the pad appoximately two months after the surgery.

The plaintiff contended that the ob/gyn nonetheless failed to conduct surgery until the plantiff was rushed to the hospital two months after the onset of severe pain and signs of infection, including fever. The plaintiff contended that the further delay severely heighten the adhesions and resulting in permanent injury. The defendant ob/gyn maintained that from surgery when the plantiff was asymptomatic was reasonable. The plantiff contended that she will permanently suffer bowel urgency after eating. The plantiff indicated that she generally eats a relatively large meal for dinner only and that after one accident during a neigbnorhood walk, she will generally stay home after eating. The plaintiff contended that she will be permanently suffer such urgency and that the loss of the ornentum will permanently subject her to further bowel adhesions.

The experts concurred that if the pad had been removed within a week, no adhesions would have formed and that she would not have required surgical intervention other than for the removal of the pad. The Court, which had directed a vetdict on liability against the nurses, instructed the jury if they found yhe ob/gyn was also negligent they should consider the two nurses one entity for the purpose of appointment. The jury issessed 6S% negligence against the ob/gyn and 35% against the nurses. They then awarded $386,5OO.


Plantiff's expert general surgeon David Befeler from Westfield. Defendant og/gyn's expert expert ob/gyn Richard Berman from Livingston.

Dowling vs. Riverview Hospital, et al. Docket no. L-3504-93: Judge Robert Feldman, I-12-98.

Attorney for plantiff Douglas D. Hanna: Attorney for defendant nurse: Mary Ann Nobile.