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Sponge malpractice suit nets couple $2.5M

Williamson Daily News

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sponge malpractice suit nets couple $2.5M

By: Pamela Scott Johnson/Staff Writer

Two times is a charm for one local couple. A Lawrence County, Ky., jury returned a verdict in favor of Williamson natives, Sophia and Darrell Savage awarding them $2.5 million in damages.

This was a retrial of a case from last June when the Savages sued Three Rivers Medical Center located in Louisa, Ky., for malpractice.

Sophia Savage, a nurse and employee of the hospital, underwent a hysterectomy on Dec. 4, 2001. Several years later, the nurse began to have digestive problems and recognized something was wrong.

She told the Daily News an x-ray taken on April 18, 2005, revealed that a surgical sponge had been left in the lower left quadrant of her abdomen. The sponge had been there for over three years before pain caused her to submit to an upper gastrointestinal tract examination. She said the x-ray found a foreign body was present in her stomach.

The next day Sophia Savage was at Our Lady of Bellefonte hospital in Ashland, Ky., for more surgery.

“What the surgeon thought was going to be a 30 minute operation turned out to last four hours,” she said. “I was terrified to have it but I had no choice. It was a life or death situation.”

She said the sponge had interwoven into her lower intestines. The surgeon had to remove some 49 centimeters of her intestines in three separate areas and reattach it with titanium staples and sutures.

“My doctor tells me I may have problems the rest of my life and could even get worse,” Sophia said.

The trial lasted three days and it took the jury a little over two hours to arrive at the unanimous verdict. Sophia was awarded $1,934,032 for past and future pain and suffering and $65,968 for past medical expenses. Darrell Savage was awarded $500,000 for his loss of services, assistance, aid, society and companionship as well as a conjugal relationship. The total comes to $2.5 million.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Sophia said. “This has been a four-year ordeal with two trials. And it wasn’t just that they (Three Rivers Medical Center) made a mistake, I worked for them. I put my life in their hands.”

The couple was represented by H. Truman Chafin Law Firm. Senate Majority Leader Truman Chafin and Letitia Neese Chafin was counsel for the plaintiffs and local counsel Mike Hogan. The hospital was represented by the Louisville, Ky. Law firm of Phillips, Parker, Orberson and Moore, Sean Ragland as lead counsel.

“It’s a wonderful feeling,” said Sen. Chafin. “To be rich in this world, you have to give a lot. This is why I am in public service and an attorney.”

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