Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Misplaced sponge update

Doctor dropped from suit;
hospital may have settled

By David Baker
Posted Wednesday August 13, 2008

A doctor named in a lawsuit which alleged that a surgical sponge was left inside a patient during surgery has been dropped from the case.

Dr. John Malfetano was dismissed out of the lawsuit in May. The case, which also names Albany Memorial Hospital, was filed in 2006 by Melanie and Christopher Kiefer of Ulster County.

The Kiefer's case was cited here as an example of how medical providers will fight even the strongest claims. Leaving an object in a patient is widely considered to be totally indefensible.

It is also a 'never event.' A growing number of insurance companies are refusing to pay hospitals for additional treatment required as a result of a never event, saying the fact that it happened is in itself conclusive evidence of negligence.

Hypoglycemia - low blood sugar - that starts while a person is in a healthcare facility and causes death or injury is also a 'never event.'

According to the Kiefer's lawsuit, Melanie Keiefer needed a second surgery to remove the sponge, and also suffered other serious conditions, including peritonitis.

As was reported here in June, the case against the hospital apparently was settled just before it was to go into court. An entry made on the court system's Web page just after the trial was due to start says the case was 'Disposed."

A partial stipulation of discontinuance signed on May 20 and filed on June 18 at the Albany County Clerk's office says the case against Malfetanto was discontinued by agreement of all the parties. It is signed by E. Stewart Jones, Jr. and a lawyer at Carter, Conboy, Case, Blackmore Maloney & Laird, the Albany law firm representing the defendants.

There is nothing in the file indicating how the case against Memorial Hospital was resolved. The judge's office has apparently not yet sent its papers in the case to the clerk' s office for filing.

Further information will be posted here as it becomes available.