Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Peguis woman launches lawsuit following surgery

Dressing sponge left in stomach

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A woman from the Peguis First Nation has launched a lawsuit after she was subjected to extreme pain and a series of unnecessary treatments over a five-month period when medical professionals at two hospitals failed to realize that a dressing sponge had been left in the woman's stomach following surgery.

Aldona Stevenson said while she was suffering from a wound infection caused by the sponge in her abdomen, doctors and nurses wrongfully accused her of being addicted to prescribed pain medication and of selling the pain killers.

Stevenson is suing several doctors and nurses at Health Sciences Centre and the Percy E. Moore Hospital in Hodgson, alleging they are collectively responsible for leaving the sponge in her abdomen and failing to discover it was there for several months.

Also named in the suit are the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority, the Peguis First Nation and the federal government.

Stevenson is asking the courts to award her unspecified punitive, general and special damages.

The allegations have not been proven in court. Statements of defence have not been filed. A court date has not been set.

Stevenson states in court documents that she had surgery at Health Sciences Centre in November 2010 to remove a large ovarian cyst but the pain persisted for several more months.

Stevenson states that it was only in February 2011 that a CT scan discovered a large object in her abdomen, which turned out to be a vacuum dressing sponge when surgeons found it and removed it a month later.

Before the sponge was finally found, Stevenson said, she was readmitted to Health Sciences Centre three more times for pain and recurring wound infections.

Stevenson said she was seen by doctors and nurses at the Percy E. Moore Hospital in Hodgson in the north Interlake region 20 times following her initial discharge from HSC. She alleges doctors and nurses in Hodgson failed to detect the sponge, and wrongfully accused her of being addicted to prescription pain medication and of selling such medication. She says they also refused to provide her with pain medication because they accused her of selling the drugs.

In addition to leaving the sponge in her abdomen, Stevenson states, HSC admitted in a letter to her in September 2011 that it lost some of her medical records, making it difficult for her to determine the level of care she received and which professionals provided it.

WRHA spokeswoman Heidi Graham said that they are aware of Stevenson's case and are "reviewing it to try and determine what happened and where.

"We are sorry for Ms. Stevenson's experience, but because the matter is before the courts, cannot comment further."

Stevenson said she "was humiliated and demoralized as a human being and treated in a disrespectful and demoralizing manner," as a result of being aboriginal.

She said that as a result of the pain and suffering, she had suicidal tendencies and suffers from psychological pain and long-term psychological damage.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 7, 2012 B1

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