TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Kreis White on Sep 13, 2013

Court: TN Court of Appeals


H. Anthony Duncan, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lorraine Deuel, individually and as Adm’x of the Estate of Clyde Deuel

Clarence James Gideon, Heather Piper, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, The Surgical Clinic, PLLC.


A surgeon left a sponge in the abdomen of a patient, closing the incision after receiving assurances from two operating room nurses that all the surgical sponges used in the operation had been fully accounted for. A second surgery was required to remove the sponge from the patient’s body. The patient died of unrelated causes seven months later. The patient’s widow filed a medical malpractice complaint against the surgeon and argued that the evidence of negligence was so plain that she could be excused from the normal requirement of producing expert testimony to prove that medical malpractice had occurred. The defendant surgeon presented expert testimony during trial to prove that the surgical standard of care entitled him to rely on the accuracy of the sponge count provided by his nurses. The jury returned a verdict for the defendant surgeon. The plaintiff argues on appeal that the trial court committed reversible error by allowing the use of expert testimony in a case that is based on the common knowledge exception and res ipsa loquitur. We affirm.

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