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A Wyoming woman is suing University of Utah Hospital and one of its doctors, saying gauze and a sponge were left in her body during a 2014 surgery to treat her cervical cancer.
Marti Lundahl filed the lawsuit Wednesday in 2nd District Court. She's seeking compensatory damages of at least $1.7 million in her case against the U., physician James McGreevy and debt collection entity GSLBC, LP.
Lundahl was diagnosed with cervical cancer, which had metastasized to her right breast and lymph nodes, in February 2014. She began receiving chemotherapy and radiation treatment at the Huntsman Cancer Institute shortly after her diagnosis, according to court documents.
In July 2014, the suit said, McGreevy performed surgery to remove a lump and lymph nodes from Lundahl at the U. Hospital. McGreevy is a general surgeon who specializes in breast cancer, according to the U.'s website.
Lundahl felt ill soon after returning home to Wyoming, the documents state, and an oncologist in October 2014 found cellulitis a bacterial skin infection at the site of her surgery.
Additionally, "pieces of gangrenous gauze were exuding" at the surgical incision site, according to the suit.
Lundahl, who is representing herself and could not be reached for comment, "was referred for immediate surgery to extract gauze and a surgical sponge left in [her] body" at a hospital in Rock Springs, Wyo.
The U. does not comment on ongoing legal issues, a U. official said. McGreevy did not respond to a request for comment.
The surgery cost $11,000. Medicaid did not cover the cost, nor did the U. or McGreevy, the suit said. GSLBC launched an "aggressive effort" to collect the debt from Lundahl, she claims.
Shortly after the surgery, Gretchen Ratzlaff, a risk management coordinator for the U. "admitted liability" and claimed the U. paid for the extraction of the gauze and sponge, the suit said.
However, Lundahl claims Ratzlaff "refused to provide proof of these payments to [Lundahl] so that [she] could present these payments to the collection agencies."
Lundahl also was diagnosed with left-side kidney failure during this time which was "proximately caused by leaving foreign objects in [her] body when [she] was severely immuno compromised" and a compromised right-side kidney, she claims. As a result, Lundahl has to undergo surgery to place stents in her kidney every three to five months, the suit said, and she has since lost one of her kidneys.
"Hence [she] survives on her remaining compromised and scarred kidney," according to the documents. "It is likely that [she] will need a kidney transplant at some time in the future if her remaining kidney malfunctions and fails."
Lundahl is suing the U. and McGreevy for professional negligence and breach of fiduciary duty.
The U. and McGreevy "had a duty to exercise reasonable care and diligence to assure that [Lundahl's] health interests were protected, especially during a surgical procedure," the suit said. "They had a duty to ensure that no foreign articles would be left in [Lundahl's] body at the conclusion of surgery."
She's suing GSLBC for violations of the [Fair] Debt Collection Practices Act, alleging the debt was "fraudulently bestowed" on her and the company aggressively pursued it.