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Judge Becomes Advocates For Patients After Sponge Left Following Surgery

Judge Nelson Bailey has presided over many trials in his ten years on the county bench-including those involving obvious acts of negligence. Much to his own disgust, he recently became a personal victim of one of these errors following medical mistakes during a surgery.

As reported in the Palm Beach Post, Judge Bailey went into the Good Samaritan Medical Center to undergo abdominal surgery. Unfortunately, upon leaving after the surgery, his pain only got worse. He went to his main doctor and underwent repeated CT scans, but no one could explain why he felt worse. Each scan revealed some unknown marker, but it was never accurately identified.

He suffered through the pain for five months before doctors finally realized what it was-a medical sponge mistakenly left in the body following the abdominal operation. It was one foot long by one foot wide and had been stuck near the Judge’s intestines the entire time. Part of the Judge’s intestines had rotted because of the sponge, ultimately having to be removed. The result is that now the Judge can never be far from a bathroom-making it difficult to engage in his favorite pastime of horseback riding.

Since the beginning of his suffering, Judge Bailey has learned that leaving sponges inside patients is the most common medical mistake made in surgeries. It happens to at least 3,000 patients a year.

Since then, the Judge has become an advocate for reform to help victims of medical mistakes. For one thing, he now proposes elimination of medical malpractice caps, explaining, “What I would like to see is when you have malpractice per se, something this egregious, the damages should be between the parties, a judge and jury without the state legislature dictating limits.”

Judge Bailey also advocates for use of an instrument that helps eliminate the problem of leaving sponges in patients. The device acts as a wand that can be waived above a patient and beeps if any sponges tagged with microchips have been left inside.

Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti wholeheartedly support both of Judge Bailey’s positions. Award caps do nothing more than further punish victims medical errors. Considering how frequently just this single mistake occurs, hospitals obviously need to do a better job of ensuring that future patients do not suffer because of these errors.