Utah woman sues Jordan Valley Medical Center after doctor fails to remove vaginal gauze post surgery

After having surgery to remove her cervix, right fallopian tube and ovary, a Tooele woman says a doctor failed to remove a piece of gauze from her vagina until a month later when the woman complained of pain.

After the Dec. 10, 2014, surgery, the lawsuit says gynecologist Eldad Vered noted several times in his documentation of the procedure that “the sponge and instrument count was complete,” the lawsuit says, but did not note that the vaginal packing sponge, a square piece of gauze at least 2 inches-by-2 inches, was still in place.

Within a few days, the patient experienced pelvic pain, chills, fatigue and painful urination, the suit says. When she returned to see Vered on Jan. 8, 2015 and described her symptoms, the doctor “discovered and removed” the gauze.

A Jordan Valley Medical Center spokesman said Monday the hospital ”cannot comment on pending litigation.” Vered did not respond to a request for comment left with a family member.

A 2014 study found that surgical items are retained in about one of every 5,500 operations, about two times per year for an average hospital. Sponges were found to be the most common items left behind.

Another woman filed suit earlier this year against the University of Utah Hospital for leaving gauze and a sponge in her body after a 2014 surgery to treat her cervical cancer.

In the new case involving the Tooele woman, the suit says Vered noted that as a result of the retained packing sponge, the patient had been experiencing ”profuse” and ”abundant foul-smelling discharge.”

When the woman returned for a follow-up appointment, the doctor diagnosed her with pelvic incisional cellulitis, the suit says, and noted that she’d experienced a delay in healing because of the retained gauze.

The suit says the retained gauze ”severely affected her ability to do her job ... as a professional driver” because it was painful to sit for extended periods of time.

At an appointment in mid-February, the woman told Vered that while her pelvic pain had resolved somewhat, she continued to “experience pain when moving or sitting still for extended periods of time” and “suffered from episodes of fatigue,” the suit says.

“Despite [Vered‘s] admission that he had failed to write the order to remove the packing or otherwise ensure that it was removed, he rationalized that there was no harm since ‘she did not have an infection when the packing was removed,’” according to the suit.

But the filing argues the doctor did not obtain any cultures when the packing was removed, and therefore, could not be ”empirically conclusive” that there wasn’t an infection.

The degree of care and treatment provided ”fell below the acceptable standards of care for the types of medical care and treatment required,” the suit says.

The woman is suing Vered, Healthcare for Women and Jordan Valley Medical Center in 3rd District Court for damages and attorney fees.