Kauai woman alleges surgeon left surgical sponge after facelift - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Kauai woman alleges surgeon left surgical sponge after facelift

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A Kauai woman has filed a lawsuit against a Honolulu plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgery clinic, alleging that they failed to remove a surgical sponge from her forehead after a facelift.

Susan Littler filed the suit against Dr. Robert Peterson and Athena Clinic, a cosmetic surgery center located in the Physicians Office Building at Kapiolani Medical Center, which is not involved in the lawsuit.

Littler claims that following surgery to lift her eyebrow and eyelids and liposuction on her chin in April 2011, a lump appeared on her forehead.

"I didn't know what was going on with my face, so maybe I thought it was a suture reaction, or something. I didn't know. But it kept getting bigger, and I started to look like I had a horn," she said.

The lawsuit contends that Dr. Peterson failed to properly diagnose or treat the lump.

Littler said she traveled from Kauai to Honolulu four times in a two-month period to see Dr. Peterson about the lump. Littler said Peterson told her, among other things, to massage the lump, which she said made it worse.

According to the lawsuit, a surgeon on Kauai ultimately discovered the surgical sponge material during a CT scan.

"They went in and started pulling out pieces of gauze, or sponge material, from my forehead," said Littler. "And so a ten-minute procedure ended up being a two and-a-half hour procedure of them pulling this stuff from my head."

Littler's lawsuit also claims that Peterson and his employees failed to perform a sponge count before, during and after the procedure. 

Littler herself is a medical doctor. She is an obstetrician with 18 years experience. She's horrified that the surgical sponge was the problem.

"Thankfully I didn't die, I didn't get a brain infection, my sinuses didn't get infected. Those could have happened," she said.

In a statement, Dr. Peterson said, "I am aware of the situation regarding Dr. Littler and we feel very sorry about this."

Dr. Peterson also said, "The sponge count at the end of surgery was correct. All sponges were accounted for, and photos taken at the completion of the operation show that there was no sponge present. We are therefore reasonably certain that the sponge was not left in there at the time of surgery. We do not know how the sponge got in her forehead -- there are multiple possible explanations."

However, Dr. Peterson did not outline those explanations, referring further questions to his attorney, who is not available until next week.

Littler's attorney said the lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of damages for pain, suffering, disfigurement and mental anguish.

Littler said the facelift was her first cosmetic surgery. She also said it also will be her last.


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