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Woman claims doctors left sponge in woman's body

Woman claims doctors left sponge in woman's body

Valpo-area couple's lawsuit targets Methodist Hospitals, others

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VALPARAISO | Shari Whittinghill came through foot surgery a couple of years ago that involved a bone graft from her hip.

But the incision at her hip would not heal, said Harold Harper, her attorney.

After suffering for more than a year, another doctor cut his way back into her body and found the cause of the problem. A small piece of sponge-like material had been left behind in the area of her lower right abdomen, Harper said.

"She was very surprised and obviously disturbed by it," he said.

Whittinghill and her husband, George Whittinghill, of the Valparaiso area, filed suit against the Methodist Hospitals and others they believe are responsible for the error. The list includes The Orthopedic Centers, Dr. Brian Coleman, Podiatric Medical Associates and Health Motivation Center.

The only defendant that could be reached for comment Friday was Health Motivation Center. Rick Nicksic, a clinical operations director and area vice president, said his center had rented space at one time to The Orthopedic Centers.

The sponge-like material recovered from Whittinghill's body measures just a few centimeters in diameter, but was enough to keep the wound from healing, Harper said. Once the material was removed, the wound healed and Whittinghill's condition improved.

While the sponge material was most likely left behind during the foot surgery Jan. 14, 2004, it could have ended up there during the follow-up care, Harper said. This means it was in her body for a minimum of six months and a maximum of 14 months.


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