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Time for a quiz. In the law of medical malpractice what exactly constitutes a foreign object? Is it (A) something imported from another country; (B) something accidentally left in a patient’s body after surgery; (C) something intentionally left in a patient’s body but wrongly placed; or (D) something that can extend the time in which a medical malpractice suit can be filed?

You will have to read the article at Day On Torts to get the official answer.

New Tennessee Supreme Court Opinion on “Foreign Object” Exception to Medical Malpractice Statute of Repose

The plaintiff’s theory in the case is that a hemoclip was negligently placed on her ureter during a surgery and left there, later causing her left kidney to fail. The defendants countered that they did not leave any hemoclip on the plaintiff’s ureter, but that “hemoclips are used intentionally and are intended to remain permanently,” so they could not be foreign objects…

In one of my cases, a huge lap pad (a type of surgical sponge) measuring over 10 inches in length was accidentally left behind in my client’s abdomen by the surgical team. In another case, several sponges were accidentally left in my client’s brain. Obviously, the sponge count, which is supposed to assure that the same number of sponges placed during surgery are removed before the closing of the surgical incision, was a failure. Nevertheless, the defendants in both cases mounted strong defenses to our claims of malpractice. The most foreign object in a malpractice case is an admission of liability.

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