Jury awards $ 10.5 million to the grandmother of Kentucky who still had a surgical sponge in her body
A woman from Kentucky received $ 10.5 million after a sponge was left in her after surgery, leading to complications and ultimately the amputation of her left leg.
Carolyn Boerste was 54 years old when she underwent a bypass surgery in 2011 to improve blood flow to her legs at the University of Louisville Hospital.
A vein was accidentally cut and an 18 by 18 inch sponge was used to collect the blood – which then remained in her.
Boerste, now 62, suffered various gastrointestinal complications over the years when the sponge eroded in her gut.
After it was discovered – and removed – she went to rehabilitation where a blister developed on her left heel and her leg could not be saved, resulting in an amputation.
Carolyn Boerste, 62, from Louisville, Kentucky, received a $ 10.5 million jury after a sponge was left in her during an operation in 2011, which eventually led to a leg amputation. Pictured: Boerste after the amputation
During a bypass operation at the University of Louisville Hospital in March 2011, a vascular surgeon cut through a vein that led to a ‘bloody mess’ that had been sucked up with an 18 by 18 inch sponge left in her body
The “tragedy of mistakes” – as described by Boerste’s lawyers – began when the grandmother underwent a bypass operation in March 2011.
During the procedure, Dr. Marvin Morris, a vascular surgeon, accidentally cut a kidney vein that drains the kidney.
This created what dr. Morris called a “bloody mess” and a “crisis” that doctors and nurses had to clean up with surgical sponges, according to a summary of the case written by James “Bo” Bolus, one of Boerste’s lawyers.
Nurses had to do a ‘sponge count’ before their lunch break, but not before eating.
Bolus told DailyMail.com that employees did not take the policy seriously and considered it a “mere guideline.”
‘Policy is not a guideline. Policy is what the hospital says the nurses should do, “he said.
“And they didn’t think it was an efficient use of their time. In this case it would have been if they had taken five minutes to count the sponges. “
Although the operation improved blood flow to Boerste’s legs, she subsequently suffered several complications, according to the case summary.
In 2015, she experienced gastrointestinal problems, including severe vomiting, after the sponge was eroded in her gut.
Dr. Mark Nunley of Baptist East Hospital saw the sponge on a CT scan, but did not tell Boerste, but instead fired her with a urinary tract infection, according to the Bolus case summary.
Boerste (left and right, with her grandchildren) later suffered gastrointestinal problems and the sponge was caught on an X-ray, but no doctors told her about it. In November 2016, doctors at the Baptist East Hospital found the sponge during another visit and it was removed
During the rehabilitation, a blister developed on the foot of Boerste, which became infected and her leg had to be amputated. Pictured: the sponge that was left in Boerste, November 2016
Boerste’s doctor, Dr. Kim Brumleve, of the Family Health Center, received the report, but did not tell her patient because she thought Dr. Nunley had already told her, the summary of the case.
In November 2016, Boerste was brought to the Baptist East with bowel pain. This time doctors told her about the sponge and it was removed.
While recovering at Franciscan Health Care Center, Boerste developed a blister on her left heel.
According to the summary of the case, the blister was caused by the care center that did not have enough tools to help Boerste get out of bed, rubbing her heel against the sheet to lift herself.
Due to complications, her leg could not be saved, even after two operations, so it was amputated in July 2017.
A jury awarded Boerste last month $ 10.5 million for medical expenses in the past, future expenses, mental and physical pain and suffering and punitive damage. Pictured: Boerste, October 201
The case summary states that the hospital made a $ 500,000 pre-trial offer to resolve the dispute, which Bolus described as “offensive.”
During a trial this year, a jury found U van L Hospital and Dr. Brumleve’s general practitioner in default.
Dr. Morris, the surgeon who cut the vein, was held liable by a nine to three vote, but not by Dr. Nunely.
Boerste received $ 9.5 million, including $ 550,000 for past medical expenses, $ 875,000 for future expenses, and $ 8,075,000 for mental and physical pain and suffering.
The jury has also awarded $ 1 million in damages.
Bolus says that Boerste has learned from expert witnesses that her life expectancy has been shortened to five years from the moment her leg was amputated.
‘A profession takes two to five years. Well, maybe she doesn’t live off the job, “said Bolus.
“This woman went back to hell, and you wouldn’t wish that for your worst enemy, and they won’t be responsible for losing her leg.”
In a statement to DailyMail.com, you from L Health say that it improves safety practices as a result of the lawsuit.
“The University Medical Center is already underway to appeal this ruling,” said David McArthur, Director of Public Relations.
“Safety has always been a top priority and in the eight years since the beginning of this case, we have continuously improved our processes and we continue to look for additional opportunities for improvement.”