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North Carolina doctor to pay $6 million for medical malpractice

Following the conclusion of a medical malpractice lawsuit, a former doctor must pay $6 million to the family of a patient who died due to complications from surgery. According to the lawsuit, the doctor left a surgical sponge in the patient's abdomen after performing surgery to remove cancerous tissue from her body.

The lawsuit argues that the doctor's negligence directly contributed to the patient's death, as the presence of the sponge caused her to contract illnesses and infection that made it impossible to receive the radiation and chemotherapy that might have allowed her to recover from the cancer that ultimately killed her. She is survived by her husband and three children.

The doctor, who no longer practices medicine, has repeatedly denied responsibility in the 56-year-old patient's death. However, the plaintiffs' attorney asserted that the doctor did not "examine the abdominal cavity for surgical sponges" and failed to "check with the nurse that an adequate sponge count had been completed."

According to the lawyer, medical staff did not learn about the mistake until 10 days after the surgery, which resulted in the patient receiving "absolutely no treatment for the cancer" for which she was being hospitalized. He added that the defendant's retirement from medicine was due to her becoming disabled and was not related to the malpractice suit. Her medical license with the North Carolina Medical Board is currently inactive.

A jury ordered the former doctor to provide $750,000 to the deceased patient's husband and an additional $5.1 million to her estate. She also must pay for the plaintiff's legal fees and prejudgment interest, which have accumulated to a sum of greater than $1 million since the case began in 2008. The defendant's legal team has not responded to requests for comment on the case.

Source: FayObserver.com, "Jury orders former Fayetteville doctor to pay $6 million in malpractice suit," Ali Rockett, Oct. 17, 2012

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