The Craziest Objects Left Inside People’s Bodies After Surgery

A sponge, gauze, scissors…

Items that should be left on the surgical tray,  NOT  in your body.

We get it, some people aren’t phased by the sight of blood and can even watch a surgical video without flinching.

But if you’re like the majority of people, you look away. When going in for surgery you may ask how long your surgery will be or what recovery’s like. But the rest…well you leave that to the medical staff. You don’t want all of the spine tingling details. You expect surgery to go smooth. To get in and out and have a nice place to rest your head while you recoup.

A girl lays comfortably in bed full of blankets and pillows.

What you don’t expect is to experience stomach pain and bloating for years and later find out two surgical sponges were left behind during your C-Section. Or come to find out your doctor left behind a towel, that’s now intertwined with your intestines…what?!

Here’s a few of the craziest surgical tales we’ve heard yet.

Missing Retractor

Unless you’re in the medical field, you probably don’t know what a surgical retractor is. Basically it’s a tool doctors use to keep your incision open and to hold back tissue and other organs.

Patient Donald Church knows all too well about these large, metal devices. It’s been nearly twenty years since his surgery, but it’s still one of the wildest stories yet.

Mr. Church’s surgeon left a 12 inch retractor in his abdomen. 12 inches! Can you imagine the misery he must have been going through? Being constantly poked and prodded by a piece of metal. According to Church it was agonizing:

There were days when I would just roll up on the floor in the bathroom and sob, because I was in so much pain. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.

Donald Church

Mr. Church voiced his concerns to his surgeon, but was told that pain post surgery was normal. Even thirty days after surgery, he was still communicating his concerns to no avail. Thankfully his family physician noticed a strange lump in Church’s chest during a routine exam. An x-ray was ordered which clearly showed the retractor. Church lived to share his story, and received some much deserved compensation for his troubles.

Infection Leads to Death

Not all stories have a happy ending. That’s why medical errors are such a huge issue that needs to be addressed. Sometimes people lose their lives because of careless mistakes.

In this story, a mother of three lost hers.

Geraldine Nicholson went in for surgery to have cancer removed. Scary enough, right? But weeks later she learned a surgical sponge had been left in her body from surgery. The sponge was removed, but Ms. Nicholson dealt with various infections spanning a year, because of it.

Cancer treatment saves lives but it also wreaks havoc on your immune system. Even the most mild infection can be life threatening. Because of the sponge’s aftermath, Geraldine wasn’t able to receive the chemotherapy and radiation she needed. She wasn’t left with a fighting chance. All because of a surgical error. Like others, she lost her life because of someone else’s mistake.

A doctor holds surgical tools while performing surgery.

Missing Needle

For many, there’s no surgery as scary as open heart.  It’s long and intense, and just seems so vulnerable. Imagine making it through a 9 hour surgery only to learn that a needle has been left somewhere in your body. Unlike some cases, at least the doctor acknowledged their mistake and tried to make it right, but needles aren’t easy to find. There’s a reason for the adage, “Like looking for a needle in a haystack.” Some things are nearly impossible to find.

Just a month after surgery Mr. Burns passed away because of complications from the needle. Only after an autopsy was performed was the tiny but devastating tool found.


According to the CDC there are an estimated 1,500 cases each year of foreign entities being left behind during surgery each year. The most common items are sponges and surgical instruments. Usually poor communication and organization are the culprit for such mistakes.

In most hospitals there are standard precautions in place to avoid errors like these. Such as the scrub nurse counting the number of sponges and instruments, both before surgery and after.

Mistakes happen. There will always be human error, but you shouldn’t be penalized because someone else made a mistake. Medical malpractice affects not only quality of life, but in some cases duration.

You are your best advocate. If someone treated you wrong, reach out to someone who can help.


Wrongful Death Guide: Proof, Compensation, the Attorney & More

What No Family Should Experience

Every day in the Houston area, children run and tumble on school playgrounds. Recess is a time for kids to be kids. Releasing their pent up energy, kicking around a ball or two, or maybe even playing make believe. Every once in a while though, things get out of hand and accidents occur. Most of the time it’s a minor scrape or cut. At times though, things such as a broken bone or more serious injury occur. A recess romp rarely turns into a fatal accident, but occasionally the unthinkable occurs.

Last spring at John W. Carpenter elementary school, a 6-year-old boy from Dallas collided with a playground pole. His parents took him to the hospital. While there hospital staff performed x-rays and diagnosed him with constipation. They said it was okay to go home.  Several hours later, the boy lost consciousness. His parents called 911, but the boy died before the ambulance could even arrive at the hospital.

Was there a medical mistake or a misdiagnosis of a fatal condition? According to the family, the negligence that took place was deliberate. The hospital, however, denies this accusation. The family claims that the hospital staff misused an enema and tried to cover up the internal damage that was caused.

No parent wants to ponder the idea of wrongful death amidst tragedy, but legal action is one way that parents can hold negligent professionals accountable. In hospitals, misdiagnosis errors can come about in many ways, from rushed lab work to bad communication between staff. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can find the source of negligence in a misdiagnosis incident. They help families in moving forward in the process.

Staggering Statistics

Doctor stands with arms folded while holding a stethoscope

According to a new study published in the BMJ — formerly the British Medical Journal — researchers have discovered that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States*, trailing only heart disease and cancer.

Based on the results of the study, medical errors result in the wrongful death of roughly 251,000 people each year. That is over 100,000 more than the next highest leading causes of death, respiratory disease (147,000), accidents (136,000), and stroke (133,000).

These statistics are alarming. The 250,000 death-toll number means that about 700 deaths occur each day— which is 9.5% of all annual deaths in the nation. Did you know that The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t have any standards in place that require medical professionals to specify medical errors that may have contributed to a patient’s cause of death? Things need to change.

*The study was led by Dr. Martin Makary, a professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, whose investigation included communication breakdowns, system errors, surgical errors, emergency room errors, medication errors, anesthesia errors, and more. The study also includes medical “never events.”  Events where staff operate on the wrong person, perform surgery on the the wrong body part, or even leave a foreign object in a patient, after surgery.

Who can speak for victims most effectively in a wrongful death?

Stack of books with glasses on top

Families of a deceased victim often present a strong voice for their loved one’s interests, but holding the guilty staff member or hospital accountable can be difficult.

Medical malpractice lawsuits require experts in the medical field. These professionals can confirm whether you have a case or not.  Even the smallest  details can be the difference between getting compensation or not.

In addition, medically-related lawsuits are often against relatively powerful opponents, such as hospitals, medical device manufacturers, or respected physicians. With several decades of experience going up against these tough adversaries in court, the law firm of Hampton & King repeatedly fights and wins – to hold those guilty, accountable for wrongful deaths. Our firm has handled countless types of medical negligence cases over the years, from fatal diagnostic errors to deadly surgical mistakes. This wide range of cases has given the attorneys at our firm the winning edge.  Successfully advocating for a victim’s interests in court, and seeking justice.

Following the loss of a loved one in a medical sitting, it can be hard to consider legal action. Still, getting the right information about the available options after a fatal accident is often a necessary and helpful step.

What we need to prove in a wrongful death suit?

Man extending his hand to help

When families experience the loss of a loved one in a medical sitting, countless questions are likely to arise if wrongful death is suspected.

There are several key components that add up to a wrongful death. First, we figure out if the reason for death was another person’s negligence, or something else. In healthcare, this can be very complex. Especially if the deceased had existing health conditions or if they have had numerous treatments by medical professionals.  Frequently, expert opinions from those with proven medical knowledge must be introduced in order to explain the cause of death.

Another crucial element is the damage of death inflicted on family members. Of course, the death of a loved one is always emotionally traumatic, there’s no question about that. But there’s often financial damages, and other damages as well. If the deceased was a wage-earner, for example, that person’s death can throw a family’s financial situation into turmoil. All harm must be considered.

While these important factors must be met in order to bring forth a wrongful
death suit, there are countless aspects of successful lawsuits. In addition to the complex nature of wrongful death suits, there also are important deadlines for filing such suits; a Houston medical malpractice attorney can help a family understand the timeline for their case.

At Hampton & King, we know the devastation that medical errors causes victims and their families. It is important to have dedicated and committed representation on their side.  To help hold health care providers accountable for their actions. Call our Houston medical malpractice attorneys and discuss your potential claim with our devoted team today. We may be able to help you seek the compensation you deserve and obtain justice on your behalf.

How to Differentiate Between Adverse Events and Malpractice

Emergency sign showing directions to the main entrance of hospital.

Undergoing any major medical procedure can be intimidating. There are inherent risks with some surgeries or treatments that doctors cannot eliminate. They will still recommend the procedures if they believe it is the only solution. Similarly, taking pharmaceutical drugs can also have side effects that are not pleasant. Many individuals believe that because they endured pain and suffering after a surgery or after ingesting medicine, they have grounds for suing. However, it is not that simple.
Continue reading How to Differentiate Between Adverse Events and Malpractice

4 “Never Events” That Could Give Rise to Medical Malpractice Claims

When you walk into a hospital, you expect the physicians and doctors to
be well trained and know the proper procedures. You place your trust in
them, expecting them to know how to best care for your health. Doctors
need to go through extensive schooling and training before they can help
Continue reading 4 “Never Events” That Could Give Rise to Medical Malpractice Claims

Family claims botched delivery in Texas newborn’s death


The loss of a loved one is always deeply hurtful, but often much more so
when the deceased was relatively young. The death of a newborn is almost
unfathomable to most Texas families, but unfortunately that is what one
local family has had to cope with recently. In situations where a loved
one has died unexpectedly due to a medical mistake, a family can obtain
legal advice from a Houston wrongful death attorney.
Continue reading Family claims botched delivery in Texas newborn’s death

What can I expect when discussing a medical malpractice case?


A family grieving the loss of a loved one rarely wants to initiate a lawsuit;
however, in many instances a civil suit is the only way to hold a negligent
doctor, hospital or other entity accountable. Still, taking one’s
case to a Houston medical malpractice attorney may be very difficult.
A family is likely dealing with a variety of intense emotions, coping
with ongoing grief and shock and struggling to overcome new financial
challenges. What can families expect when they talk to an attorney about
medical malpractice and wrongful death?
Continue reading What can I expect when discussing a medical malpractice case?