$1 million verdict in case over surgical wire left in toddler

$1 million verdict in case over surgical wire left in toddler

Credit: Courtesy Raul Swain and Kathleen Schons

A February 2012 x-ray of Jaxon Swain-Schons showed surgical guide wire left in his body from a procedure conducted at Swedish in August 2011.

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on December 19, 2013 at 6:20 PM

A King County jury found a Swedish Hospital physician was negligent when he left a surgical guidewire inside the vein of a young boy he treated for dehydration in August 2011.

In finding Dr. Michael C. Shannon negligent, the jury awarded a total of $1 million in damages to Jaxom Schwain-Schons and his parents, Raul Swain and Kathleen Schons.

The complaint involved Shannon's insertion of a a catheter into the leg vein of Schwain-Schons. In the months after the then-toddler was treated by Shannon, he exhibited abnormal behavior and complained of sharp pains in his neck.

In February 2012 Swain-Schons' parents saw what appeared to be a large cyst poking out of their son's neck. An x-ray showed pieces of surgical wire inside the boy's chest, with one of them running up into his head. Surgery was required to remove the wires.

[See Linda Byron's Sept. 2013 report on the case.]

According to medical records from the Everett Clinic and Children’s Medical Center, the most likely explanation was that a guide wire had been left inside Jax’s leg during the procedure at Swedish six months earlier and that it had broken into two pieces and migrated through his body.

Swain-Schons' parents filed a complaint against the hospital and the doctor alleging medical negligence.  They said that Dr. Shannon had been working for 40 hours when he did Jax’s procedure and that Swedish lacked a system to catch the missing guide wire.  Swedish has been a leader in the State of Washington in the use of mandatory surgical checklists, but Kathy Schons said there was no checklist for the procedure done on her son.

After Thursday's decision, an attorney for Swain-Schons wrote, "Swedish and Dr. Shannon vigorously defended the case at trial, admitting that the guide wire had been inserted by Dr. Shannon at Swedish, but that the wire failed in a way that the doctor did not notice, resulting in the wire being left in Jaxom’s venous system."

"The family is very relieved and hopes Swedish changes their procedure to make sure they have a check list so this doesn’t happen to another child," the attorney also wrote.

When asked for comment on the case earlier this year, Swedish sent the following statement to KING 5: "At Swedish, our top priority is the health and well-being of every patient we serve.  We are always evaluating our practices to ensure every patient receives the best care possible. We are unable to provide comment regarding this specific case due to patient privacy concerns and because there is ongoing litigation."

Swain-Schons turned 4 in November.

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