Ohio man settles for $275,000 from VA surgery error

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 14, 2011 2:33 PM
Ohio man settles for $275,000 from VA surgery error

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - The federal government has agreed to pay an Ohio U.S. Army veteran $275,000 to settle his lawsuit after surgeons left two towels in his body following a kidney surgery at a Veterans Affairs hospital.

Robert Sanner, 47, was readmitted twice to Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center with abdominal pain and discomfort following the kidney surgery in May 2008 before doctors performed a scan and found two 11 by 14 inch towels.

The towels were removed in a second surgery in August 2008, a day after the tests showed the towels were still inside Sanner 3-1/2 months after his initial kidney surgery.

A third surgery was performed to repair a hernia, a common need after multiple abdominal surgeries, Sanner's attorney, R. Craig McLaughlin said on Wednesday in an interview.

Sanner, a truck driver from New Philadelphia, Ohio, was unable to work for nearly a year due to the health problems, McLaughlin said.

"It was just human error. They did not make sure that everything was accounted for," McLaughlin said. "The whole incident did bring to light the lack of safety equipment available for our veterans."

The government did not dispute that doctors and nurses at the hospital had breached the standard of care when they left the surgical towels in Sanner's body.

(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by David Bailey and Jerry Norton)