In 2008, Annals of Surgery published a study, which revealed that about 13 percent of retained foreign objects left behind after surgery occur due to miscounting. Objects commonly left in a person's body following surgery are sponges, instruments, and towels. Complications may arise as a result of the negligence of the healthcare provider in leaving a foreign object in your body and the object may need to be removed requiring a second surgery.

One of the common problems that arises out of retained foreign object cases, such as leaving a sponge in the abdomen of an injury victim, is that the object may not be discovered right away. In Missouri, R.S.Mo. 516.105 provides that any claims against a health care provider must be filed within 2 years.

However, there are a certain group of cases that fall outside of the general rule. These may be referred to as sponge cases or retained foreign object cases and apply to anything left behind in a person's body after a surgery such as sponges, clamps, scissors, etc. Often times, the retained objects are not discovered until after the 2 years has expired. So an exception was made for such cases.

In Missouri, there is a special exception carved out specifically for retained foreign object cases, which states that suit must be filed within 2 years from the date of discovery meaning the date the object was found (rather than the date the negligence occurred) or from the date you should have discovered the negligence. For example, if a sponge was left in your abdomen following surgery in 2005 and was discovered in 2009, the 2 year statute of limitations does not begin to run until 2009 giving you until 2011 to bring suit against the doctor or hospital.

Missouri also has a statute of repose, which bars any actions for malpractice from being brought against a physician, hospital or other health care professional after ten years. In the example above, even if the sponge was not discovered until 2014, you would not have until 2016 to bring suit, you would only have until 2015, which is 10 years from the date the malpractice occurred.

There are additional exceptions to the 2-year statute of limitations for medical negligence cases involving minors. There are also exceptions for other cases as well. 

Do You Think You May Have A Medical Malpractice Claim?

If you believe you may have a medical malpractice claim you need to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Please contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

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James Roswold
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James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.