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Medical Malpractice and Hospital Negligence Attorney Representing Plaintiffs in surgery error lawsuits
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Retained Surgical Objects

Surgical procedures for patients have certain risks, such as risks from anesthesia and hospital-born infections. Some patients also face complications from poorly executed procedures.

In rare cases, surgeons and nurses may forget to remove a sponge, needle or other surgical instruments before closing an incision. In fact, thousands of patients a year leave operating rooms with surgical items lodged in their bodies.

The majority of cases of retained surgical instruments involve gauze and cotton sponges used throughout operations to soak up blood and other fluids. Instruments used to properly perform the surgery are supposed to be counted by a surgical team so that the mistake of a retained foreign instrument does not occur. If a sponge, needle or blade is retained, an injury is likely to follow. Other surgical items that may be retained patients are:

  • Towels
  • Needles
  • Knife blades
  • Scalpels
  • Clamps
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Forceps
  • Suction tips and tubes
  • Scopes
  • Surgical Staplers

The John Hopkins Institute found that surgical items are left inside of patients around 39 times a week in the U.S. These Surgical Injury are sometimes referred to as “never events” because they are so serious that medical professionals agree they should never occur. Unfortunately, these medical mistakes do occur and can cause severe health complications.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated hospital negligence attorney and medical malpractice lawyer representing plaintiffs nationwide in a wide variety of civil litigation claims. 

Retained Sponges & Surgical Instruments

Because medical sponges are designed to soak up fluid, they often blend in with the operating anatomy of a patient and hidden within the body cavity. If proper procedures are not followed, they can be forgotten by a medical team.

Patients who suffer from retained sponges are hit with life-threatening infections and must seek medical attention. A corrective surgery will be necessary and in serious cases may mean removing sections of intestine or colon and can lead to disabling conditions.

These events can be prevented by following proper medical protocol, such as the use of bar-coded or radio frequency-tagged surgical instruments. This ensures that after a surgery, all items can be accounted for without resorting to a simple counting which can be susceptible to human error. But not every hospital and surgical center has adopted available technologies that help eliminate the risk of leaving sponges in patients.

There is no standardized procedure for accounting for medical items from hospital to hospital. A review of government data and legal records suggests that far more people may be victims of lost surgical objects than prior estimates report. There’s no federal reporting requirement when hospitals leave sponges or other items in patients. Sponges account for more than two-thirds of all incidents.

Retained Surgical Instruments & Complications

Typically patients with a retained sponge must undergo a second surgical procedure and are faced with common operational risks. Retained sponges may sit in a patient’s body for months before being discovered.

When this occurs, potential health risks include developing a serious infection. Sponges, clamps and other items are attacked by the body’s immune system. When the foreign body retained is a scalpel, clamp or other sharp object, patients can face potential lacerations of vital organs.

Retained Surgical Instrument Injuries

When any patient is admitted to hospital for a surgical procedure, there is a reasonable expectation that the attending surgeon and team of medical professionals will do their best to perform a successful operation. The thought of professionals accounting for all instruments and sponges after the procedure should not cross your mind. This kind of gross negligence or malpractice is basis for a legal claim.

A surgeon is responsible to ensure that all objects are accounted for, and a failure to do so is a failure of duty. Patients who suffer an infection or a laceration caused by a retained foreign body are clear injuries. Medical malpractice cases can be very difficult to win, however a retained sponge or instrument is clearly a breach of duty by the surgeon or nurse and settlement compensation is very likely.


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Joseph Lyon has 17 years of experience representing individuals in complex litigation matters. He has represented individuals in every state against many of the largest companies in the world.

The Firm focuses on single-event civil cases and class actions involving corporate neglect & fraud, toxic exposure, product defects & recalls, medical malpractice, and invasion of privacy.


The Firm offers contingency fees, advancing all costs of the litigation, and accepting the full financial risk, allowing our clients full access to the legal system while reducing the financial stress while they focus on their healthcare and financial needs.

photo of attorney Joe Lyon
A Voice for Those who have suffered

Why are these cases important?

 When management or individuals fail to provide a sufficient level of care, victims may seek legal recourse and file suit against the negligent parties. Medical malpractice lawsuits improve the quality of healthcare by holding physicians and hospitals responsible when they fall below a professional standard of care. 


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Questions about Medical Malpractice

What is a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

Hospitals, medical staff, nurses and doctors are responsible for providing proper patient care. When management or individuals fail to provide a sufficient level of care, victims may seek legal recourse and file suit against the negligent parties.

Without medical malpractice laws, medical mistakes would go without consequence, patients would be uncompensated for preventable injuries, and medical providers would have less incentive to improve the medical system to prevent future injuries.

Despite the reports discussed above, frivolous claims brought by medical malpractice attorneys and runaway juries have been blamed as causing a medical crisis. There is no medical malpractice crisis, it is simply propaganda created by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and large insurance companies to pollute the American jury pool and change the law in a manner that is favorable to them and adverse to the average American. And sadly, it has worked.

Currently, 90 percent of juries side with the physician over the patient at trial. As a result, insurance companies are bolder than ever and refuse at times to settle even the most meritorious of cases knowing that the chances of the patient finding a fair and impartial jury is extremely low, especially in more conservative parties of the country such as Hamilton County, Ohio.

What is a “Never Event” in Hospital Care ?

The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 required that conditions be identified that (a) are costly and occur at high rates, (b) are assigned as cases to the Diagnosis-Related Group, and (c) could have ultimately been prevented with appropriate care. These hospital-acquired conditions occur as negligence on the part of hospital staff and often result in a multitude of medical malpractice lawsuits.

Conditions that meet the three requirements for identification:

Learn About the Medical Malpractice Legal Process

Video: Investigating Medical Malpractice

The process for investigating a medical malpractice claims involves the following steps: 

  1. Gather a full and informed history from the family addressing their concerns and thoughts on what went wrong; 
  2. Gather the complete medical records including film studies, if any; 
  3. Review of the records and applicable medical literature by attorneys; 
  4. Review of the records by a qualified physician practicing in the relevant areas on standard of care and causation; 
  5. Final consultation with expert to review opinions;
  6. Signing of Affidavit of Merit by the Expert before case filing, for cases where medical malpractice is identified. 
Our Victories

The Lyon Firm aggressively, professionally, and passionately advocates for injured individuals and families against companies due to a defective product or recalled product to obtain just compensation under the law. 



(Cincinnati, Ohio):  Confidential settlement for a family due to a wrongful death. An emergency room physician failed to recognize the common symptoms associated with bowel obstruction and prescribed a contraindicated medicine of GoLytley.  The patient died at home the day of discharge after taking the medication. The case against the emergency room physician was resolved by settlement following extensive discovery. The settlement was paid to the spouse and surviving adult children for the loss of their mother. While no amount of money could bring back their mother, the case provided answers and held the hospital accountable.


$910,000 Settlement.

(Cincinnati, Ohio):   Joe Lyon was second chair in a case involving the failure of a physician to promptly communicate a positive breast cancer result to a patient. As a result of the delay, the cancer progressed from in situ carcinoma to stage 3B with lymph node involvement. The treatment required mastectomy and radiation/ chemotherapy rather than a simple excision. The case settled after extensive discovery. The defense argued: “the patient should have called the physician.” The settlement provided recovery for suffering through a misdiagnosis and the loss of a spouse and a mother. While the settlement cannot bring this wonderful woman back, it helped her family move forward with life’s challenges and encouraged  future accountability.