Jury awards $10.5M for sponge left in Kentucky woman

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky jury has awarded $10.5 million to a woman whose leg had to be amputated after hospital staffers years prior didn’t remove a sponge inside her during heart surgery.

The Courier Journal reports the jury awarded $1 million in punitive damages, $1.4 million in medical expenses and roughly $8 million for pain and suffering to 62-year-old Carolyn Boerste.

Boerste was 54 when underwent bypass heart surgery at the University of Louisville Hospital in 2011. At that time, nurses left an 18-by-18 inch sponge inside her.

The sponge eventually eroded into her intestine and caused gastrointestinal issues. The sponge wasn’t discovered until 2015 during a CT scan. However, court documents show Boerste didn’t find out about the sponge until 20 months later due to a communications mishap with the medical staff.

Attorneys James “Bo” Bolus and Nick Mudd said the ruling “restores some sense of dignity” to Boerste and reminds hospitals to be vigilant about removing all appropriate items after surgery.

David McArthur, a spokesman for the hospital, said it will appeal the decision. The hospital’s experts had argued in court that Boerste lost her leg due to diabetes, smoking history and lifestyle choices.

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