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Anatomy-lab dissection finds cloth behind lung

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Anatomy-lab dissection finds cloth behind lung

Old 08-12-04, 01:31 AM
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Anatomy-lab dissection finds cloth behind lung

What can one more gross news story hurt?



Canton - Bonnie Valle died with a secret not even she knew.

She often complained about an odd feeling in her chest in the years after her lung surgery to treat emphysema, family members say. It turns out she had a cloth left in her after surgery.

"She always said, 'On the left side it feels like there's something there. It felt like something moved,' " said her daughter, Jeanne Clark.

Her doctors told her that it was just the progression of the disease and that the benefits of the surgery would not last forever, Clark said.

When Valle died in June 2002, a day after her 60th birthday, she donated her body to the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine in Rootstown.

During a dissection in the anatomy lab, a faculty member discovered that a green surgical cloth the size of a large hand towel had been left behind her left lung.

Valle, who lived in Bolivar, south of Canton, hoped the contribution of her body would help doctors develop better treatments for emphysema, Clark said.

"If not for her donating her body, we would have never found out," Clark said.

Clark filed a lawsuit in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court last week seeking unspecified damages against the Cleveland Clinic, where the surgery was done, and her mother's Canton-based physician, Jeffrey Miller.

In a letter to the medical school, Miller wrote that he didn't think the towel affected the duration or quality of Valle's life.

"She lived seven years . . . which is certainly as well as one would have expected her to survive given her severe emphysema and poor pulmonary function and overall condition," Miller wrote.

The lawsuit contends that because Valle's doctors never found the towel, she suffered serious complications, incurred medical expenses and ultimately died.

"I think it insults common sense to say that a towel left rolled up behind a lung didn't affect the quality and duration of her life," said lawyer Mark Okey, who represents Clark. "I don't believe it, and I don't think a jury will."

Cleveland Clinic spokesman Cole Hatcher said the hospital had not seen the lawsuit and does not generally comment on pending litigation. Dr. Thomas Kirby, who performed the surgery, is no longer with the Clinic.

A message left seeking comment from Miller was not immediately returned Friday.

Valle, a former nurse's aide, came to the Clinic for lung-reduction surgery in October 1995. Smoking nearly two packs of cigarettes a day since the age of 15 had left her with emphysema and dependent on a constant supply of oxygen, Clark said.

2004 The Plain Dealer. Used with permission.

http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaind...7583325070.xml
Old 08-12-04, 01:37 AM
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Interesting. I'm curious to find out what effects the towel had...foreign body reaction? inflammation? adhesions?
Old 08-12-04, 01:53 AM
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While it's inexcusable to leave a towel in there, I doubt it had any major impact on how long she lived or anything. I mean, it's not like it was still absorbing stuff 7 years later.
Old 08-12-04, 07:37 AM
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Re: Anatomy-lab dissection finds cloth behind lung

Originally posted by P.E.
...Valle, a former nurse's aide, came to the Clinic for lung-reduction surgery in October 1995. Smoking nearly two packs of cigarettes a day since the age of 15 had left her with emphysema and dependent on a constant supply of oxygen, Clark said...
Even with the sterile surgical towel being left in, I still think smoking is what killed her. That being said, I disagree with malpractice suits. If a medical practitioner causes injury or death through rank incompetence, suspension of license and jail time seems more appropriate.
Old 08-12-04, 07:41 AM
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2 packs a day for 40+ years

How many smokes are in a pack? Thats a hell of a lot of smokes in a year.
7 years with a surgical towel is a long time to have that feeling. But I don't think it hastened her death.
I'd think that with advanced emphysema and being dependent on oxygen, 7 years after a surgery, and at that age, would be more then expected.
Old 08-12-04, 08:10 AM
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If anything, the towel helped her. Maybe.
Old 08-12-04, 10:09 AM
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Practically ANY foreign body introduced into the human body will cause a chronic inflammatory process around the object, this is true even of sutures surgeons use to stitch things up. There's a reason docs and nurses are generally so meticulous about lap pad counts in the OR
Old 08-12-04, 10:38 AM
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Originally posted by Vryce
2 packs a day for 40+ years

How many smokes are in a pack? Thats a hell of a lot of smokes in a year.
7 years with a surgical towel is a long time to have that feeling. But I don't think it hastened her death.
I'd think that with advanced emphysema and being dependent on oxygen, 7 years after a surgery, and at that age, would be more then expected.
2*20*40*365=584000 nails

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