An Army veteran who lived with a scalpel in his abdomen for four years after it was left inside him during surgery at the VA Hospital in West Haven, Connecticut has filed a malpractice lawsuit against the United States, Connecticut, according to the man's attorney.
Glenford Turner filed the lawsuit on Friday, months after an X-ray revealed a scalpel in his abdomen.
The 61-year-old Iraq war veteran, who lives in Bridgeport, was suffering from dizziness and abdominal pains, according to Faxon Law Group, the group that filed the malpractice lawsuit.
"Any one of those organs could have been pierced by this and he could have been killed," attorney Joel Faxon said.
Turner went to the West Haven campus of the VA Connecticut Healthcare System on March 29, 2017, for an MRI, but his pain got worse and the process was abruptly stopped, according to Faxon Law Group.
X-rays revealed that a scalpel had been left inside the veteran’s body, near his stomach and intestines. Doctors determined it was left from a prostate cancer procedure performed on Aug. 30, 2013, at the West Haven VA, according to Faxon Law Group.
"In my judgment, it’s clearly a seven-figure case when somebody leaves a scalpel like this in you and you have the future risk of having infections or adhesions or other problems that could necessitate additional surgery," Faxon said in an interview.
In April 2017, Turner went through surgery to remove the scalpel.
Faxon said he filed a claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs on Turner's behalf with the West Haven VA under the Federal Torts Claims Act a few months later in June, but the issue was not resolved, which is why they filed the federal lawsuit last week.
The lawyer calls it "an incomprehensible level of incompetence."
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal responded to the lawsuit with a statement, saying he was "appalled and stunned" by the "egregious" malpractice.
"While the court determines liability, I have asked for a detailed explanation from VA of this deeply troubling report," Blumenthal said in the statement. "I am demanding also full accountability so this kind of horrific negligence never happens again. America owes our veterans the world’s best medical care, nothing less."
The West Haven VA spokesperson said they haven't had a chance to review the lawsuit since they were closed on Monday for the holiday. They said they hope to provide a response to NBC Connecticut later in the week.
A federal judge in Bridgeport has been assigned to the case.