Air Force offers former army spouse $50,000 settlement after towel left inside her during C-section

Angie Perry said she will not settle and has claimed $1mn for malpractice

Sravasti Dasgupta
Friday 22 October 2021 07:47
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<p>File photo: In 2020, as many as 17 cases were reported of surgeons leaving behind objects in patients at DOD hospitals</p>

File photo: In 2020, as many as 17 cases were reported of surgeons leaving behind objects in patients at DOD hospitals

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A former army spouse has been offered $50,000 (£36,000) by the US Air Force to settle her claim of medical malpractice at the Yokota Air Base in western Japan in 2013.

Angie Perry said that she discovered in 2018 that her chronic abdomen pain was due to a laparotomy towel that had been left inside her abdomen during her Cesarian-section at Yokota in 2013, reported Stars and Stripes.

Ms Perry who now lives in Vancouver, Washington, said her surgery at the army base in Japan was “frantic” and “chaotic”.

“At one point, the surgeon couldn’t stop the bleeding and things got a little frantic in the surgery room where the nurses were pleading with the surgeon to let them go ask another surgeon to come and assist,” Ms Perry said. “I thought for certain I was going to die right there.”

Ms Perry said that the surgeon who was conducting the procedure was fresh out of training and does not work at the base anymore.

Though the surgery ended with Ms Perry taking home her healthy baby boy, she soon started experiencing chronic pain in her abdomen.

Ms Perry added that her digestive system stopped working, her bladder no longer functioned, and she was forced to wear diapers.

It was only in 2018 that a doctor in Washington found the towel in her abdomen in a CT scan and removed it, along with a part of her intestine.

Ms Perry said that she had received the Air Force’s settlement offer in July along with a letter that said, while the towel may have caused abdominal pain, “pain is subjective”.

Ms Perry said that she will not settle and has claimed $1 million (over £724,753) for malpractice.

A Yokota air base spokesperson told Stars and Stripes that they cannot comment on Ms Perry’s individual case.

Ms Perry is reportedly not the only woman to have suffered at Yokota. Lamia Lahlou, a former Arabic linguist for the Army, also had a similar experience during her C-section in 2013.

Ms Lahlou’s chronic pain was ignored in Yokota but doctors in the US found mass infection due to cotton balls being left behind in her abdomen. She had to get five surgeries and a part of her bladder was removed, according to reports.

In 2016, when the US Department of Defence (DOD) started tracking such events, as a part of its annual report, 18 cases were identified where surgeons left behind objects in patients. In a further 38 cases, doctors had operated on the wrong patient or conducted the wrong procedure.

In 2020, as many as 17 cases were reported of surgeons leaving behind objects in patients at DOD hospitals. In 21 instances, doctors operated on the wrong patient or conducted the wrong procedure.

The 2020 National Defence Authorisation Act, which ended a 70-year ban on suing the DOD for medical malpractice, allows service members and their families to file claims but they cannot sue medical facilities at bases overseas.

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