An Army veteran has sued the Department of Veteran Affairs after a surgeon at West Haven Veteran Affairs Hospital allegedly left a scalpel in his body during a surgery four years ago.
According to the lawsuit, Glenford Turner said he underwent a robotic-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy on Aug. 30, 2013. He went back to the hospital on March 29, 2017 to get an MRI after experiencing stomach pain and dizziness for a while.
“X-rays revealed the presence of an abandoned scalpel inside Mr. Turner’s body. Doctors confirmed that is was the scalpel knife used during Turner’s radical prostatectomy — performed four years earlier at the West Haven VA,” Turner’s lawyer, Joel Faxon said.
Faxon said the incident was “an incomprehensible level of incompetence.” He explained that the surgery took five hours instead of the one hour it should have taken and they failed to take X-rays after the procedure to ensure no instruments were left in the body.
“It is shocking that in return for that service the VA thanked him by deploying a rookie surgical trainee to perform the surgery who showed an incomprehensible level of incompetence by losing the scalpel in Mr. Turner’s abdomen and not bothering to find it. He just sewed him up and moved on to his next victim,” he said.
Faxon added that he’s shocked Turner is still alive because the scalpel could have pierced his bowel, intestines and stomach.
The lawsuit demands unspecified compensatory damages and alleges Turner suffered pain, additional surgery, rehabilitation, medical costs and loss of income.
The medical malpractice case caught the attention of U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat. He said he was stunned and appalled after finding out about the case.
“I have asked for a detailed explanation from VA of this deeply troubling report,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “I am demanding also full accountability so this kind of horrific negligence never happens again.”
VA is also currently being sued by the wife of a veteran who died in 2016 while on the surgical wait list for a new heart valve.
George Walker went to the hospital in June that year after experiencing shortness of breath. He was diagnosed with aortic stenosis and put on a waitlist to get a new valve. His surgery was scheduled for July 5, but he died on July 1 in his home.
Peggy Walker said the hospital never told them how serious the condition was and that they should have never sent him home.
“If we didn’t think we were going to get the right care there, we would have gone somewhere else. He was just a happy man who didn’t know.”
The lawsuit demands an unspecified amount of damages.