A piece of gauze left behind in a patient after surgery required a follow-up procedure to remove it — and led to a lawsuit against Staten Island University Hospital and two doctors.
Adding insult to injury, Rossville resident Margaret Palombo contends she only learned through medical records obtained earlier this year — more than eight years after the initial operation was performed — that the material had been left in her abdomen.
The medical malpractice suit, filed in state Supreme Court, St. George, names as defendants the hospital, along with Dr. Gene F. Coppa and Dr. Michael Castellano.
Dr. Coppa, the hospital’s former surgery department chairman, currently is surgery chairman for North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center.
According to the suit, Mrs. Palombo, now 59, underwent a surgical procedure on her liver on Dec. 15, 2000, at University Hospital. Dr. Coppa performed the surgery and Dr. Castellano assisted. Gauze was used in the operation.
Two weeks later, Dr. Coppa admitted Mrs. Palombo to the hospital with a diagnosis of an intra-abdominal abscess. Dr. Coppa performed abdominal surgery on Jan. 1, 2001, with Dr. Castellano assisting. During that procedure, they found gauze under the fascia, or connective tissue, which runs throughout the body, suit papers allege.
Mrs. Palombo contends the “gauze foreign body” caused the abscess, necessitating the second operation. She maintains she did not find out about the gauze until obtaining medical records from University Hospital in February of this year. Before getting those records, she “had no reason to believe” a foreign body had been in her abdomen. The suit papers do not state a reason for the delay.
Online state Health Department records show there are no other reported malpractice actions against the two surgeons. Each has a clean professional disciplinary record.
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