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Needle Retention in Surgery Required Expert

Monday, October 22, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Tom Jensen
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Patient underwent aortic valve replacement. The surgery requires hundreds of tiny needles because each suture requires a different needle. At conclusion one needle was unaccounted for. Surgeon tried to find it but ultimately determined it was best to close the wound and resuscitate the patient. Patient sued without expert witness support as ordinarily required per the state statute, reasoning it was unnecessary and liability was within the common knowledge of laypersons. Trial court dismissed. Ruling was affirmed in Grayson v. Banner Health, 2018 WL 5019603 (Ariz. App. Oct. 11, 2018). Surgeon argued that the benefit to Grayson in spending more time locating the needle was outweighed by "the risk of complications" in continuing to search for the needle. Additionally, he opined that it was not a "deviation from the standard of care for a needle to be retained" and that he "complied with all applicable standards of care in performing" Grayson's surgery. Surgeon further opined that given where it lay in Grayson's chest, the needle would not injure Grayson. Court ruled that "once the needle was lost, how best to proceed from a medical standpoint would not be apparent to a layperson without the benefit of expert testimony." 


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