Patients rely on doctors and other medical professionals to maintain a standard of care when providing medical services. While instances of medical malpractice are not uncommon, some acts are so negligent that patients have no alternative but to file suit against the responsible parties. This is the case of a California woman, Carol Critchfield, who suffered four years from the negligence of medical staff during a routine surgery before she received the medical attention she needed.
In 2007, Critchfield was admitted to Simi Valley Hospital for a hysterectomy. She was a relatively healthy 56-year old woman undergoing a routine procedure. However, rather than recovering from her operation as expected, Critchfield began to experience problems shortly after being released from the hospital. Three days after coming home, she began waking up each morning dehydrated and nauseous. When she began to experience severe pain, her apprehensive husband took her to the emergency room. The emergency room personnel did not take Critchfield’s complaints very seriously. They took x-rays and concluded that it was nothing more than constipation. Critchfield was sent home.
One year later, Critchfield again had to be taken to the emergency room but this time she was experiencing blurry vision, fainting and heavy perspiration. The emergency room staff’s diagnosis was gastrointestinal issues and they advised her not to eat spicy foods. By 2011, Critchfield experienced bleeding in addition to the other symptoms she continued to experience. Suspecting an ovarian cyst, her gynecologist recommended that she have her ovaries removed. It was at this time that the surgeon discovered a sponge that had been left inside her during the previous surgery. Scar tissue had developed around the sponge. In order to remove the sponge, the surgeon had to remove a large section of her intestine.
Critchfield sued Simi Valley Hospital and the surgeon who performed her hysterectomy as well as the radiologists who failed to properly diagnose the issue when she returned on two separate occasions presenting symptoms. Critchfield’s attorney, Steve Gambardella, stated that this mistake should never have occurred. It was later proven that the sponges used in the surgery were not counted before her incision was closed. Furthermore, subsequent x-rays detected a substance that was likely the sponges but nothing further was done to determine the cause of her symptoms.
The California Department of Public Health fined Simi Valley Hospital $25,000 in regard to Critchfield’s case. One month later, the hospital was fined $50,000 for an 8-inch surgical clamp that was left in the intestine of another patient.
Simi Valley Hospital released a statement indicating they take complete responsibility for their patients. They went on to say the event in question occurred in 2007 and, since that time, the hospital has implemented procedures to promote the safety of its patients. In is noted that according to a 2014 Consumer Report, Simi Valley Hospital is now the safest hospital in Ventura County.