Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter for the Nursing Profession(5)6 June 97  PDF Version 

   Quick Summary: The jury divided fault equally among the circulating nurse, the scrub tech and the two surgeons for a bad sponge count.

   A lap sponge was left in the patient during a cesarean. It had to be removed, and that surgery led to adhesions which led to a bowel obstruction.   SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY, APPELLATE DIVISION, 1997.


   The surgeon, the circulating nurse and the surgical technician are all legally responsible if there is an incorrect sponge count in the operating room, and something is left inside the patient which results in a lawsuit for negligence.

   Often the victim will elect to seek compensation only out of the physicians’ and the hospital’s "deep pockets," but there is no legal requirement that the patient limit his or her lawsuit in that manner.

   The Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, has just upheld a jury’s verdict that a nurse, a scrub tech and the two doctors are each personally liable to the same degree to pay a share of the civil damages awarded to a patient for medical complications from a lap sponge being left inside her. Golinski vs. Hackensack Medical Center, 690 A. 2d 147 (N.J. Super., 1997).