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Family says surgeon left needle in patient who later died: lawsuit

By Fox News

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(FOX NEWS) – A Tennessee man died roughly a month after a surgeon at Tristar Centennial hospital in Nashville allegedly left a needle inside of him after performing open heart surgery, a lawsuit filed by the man’s family claims.

The needle was reportedly lost inside the body of 73-year-old John Burns Johnson while he underwent heart surgery in May 2017. According to the lawsuit reviewed by The Tennessean, the surgeon, identified as Dr. Sreekumar Subramanian, realized he was missing a surgical needle after closing Johnson’s chest upon completion of the nine-hour procedure.

An X-ray later confirmed the needle was inside the man’s body. A second surgery was performed to remove the needle, but the surgeon was “unable to remove it,” the newspaper reported, noting it wasn’t clear if the device was unable to be found or if it was not in a position to be removed.

Johnson died about a month later, the lawsuit claims.

“Mr. Johnson’s condition continued to deteriorate over the next thirty days,” the lawsuit reads, according to The Tennessean. “He was critically ill and never saw his home again.”

The needle was eventually removed during the man’s autopsy. His death was reportedly “painful, unnecessary and wrongful,” the lawsuit says.

In a statement, Tristar said it takes “the responsibility of properly caring for our patients very seriously and empathize with the understandable grief being felt by the family,” but declined to comment further on the claims.

A spokesperson for the hospital did not immediately return Fox News’ request for comment on Tuesday.

Medical objects left inside a patient’s body are rare, occurring in about 1 of every 5,500 to 7,000 surgeries, according to the Journal of American College of Surgeons. Surgical needles and sponges are the two most common items that are left behind.

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