Health & Medicine

Richmond couple sues surgeon, hospital, saying five sponges were left in thigh wound

Khris and Amanda Martin of Richmond are suing Saint Joseph Health System, Kentucky One Health and a plastic surgeon, claiming that sponges left in Amanda Martin's thigh caused an infection.

The hospitals and Dr. Michael J. Bass should pay punitive damages for "willful, intentional and malicious medical treatment of Mrs. Martin after failing to exercise the degree of care and skill as would be expected of Dr. Bass," the Martins' lawsuit says. It was filed June 23 in Fayette Circuit Court.

According to the lawsuit, Amanda Martin suffered an injury to her left thigh and went to Saint Joseph Hospital in Lexington on July 2, 2013, to seek treatment. She was admitted July 5 and underwent debridement, the removal of dead or contaminated skin tissue, and a skin graft on July 8. The procedures were all done by Bass. After the surgery, Amanda Martin's thigh continued to hurt, her condition worsened and her thigh had to be drained with tubes, the lawsuit says.

The causes of Amanda Martin's anguish were found on Aug. 11, 2013, during an ultrasound that revealed five surgical sponges in her leg; the sponges were removed on Aug. 13, 2013, according to the lawsuit.

"The failure to remove these sponges during the July 8, 2013 surgery resulted in Mrs. Martin suffering a staph infection and excessive buildup of fluid," said the lawsuit, which included references to Bass's medical notes.

Amanda Martin spent seven weeks at Saint Joseph Hospital and at Kentucky One Health Continuing Care Hospital in Lexington waiting for her thigh to heal, the lawsuit said.

Mark Wohlander, an attorney for Amanda Martin, said she's doing OK but is unable to hold a job because she can't stand on her leg; it will require several more surgeries, he said.

"We stand by the facts in the complaint, and we believe what happened in this case was very sad," Wohlander said. "We only hope that we can help Mrs. Martin recover from all that has happened."

The lawsuit additionally alleges that on three occasions during post-surgery examinations — twice in front of a witness — Bass commented on Amanda Martin's pubic area, saying "Spread your legs like your boyfriend was here," "I'm glad you shave," and "You need to shave with a straight razor."

The lawyers for the defendants did not comment about the specifics of the case, but James E. Smith, Bass's attorney, said his client's position is "that he met all applicable standards of care."

Jeff Barnett, the hospitals' attorney, said his office "will investigate the facts as thoroughly as possible."

The lawsuit does not say how much money the Martins are seeking.