Jury awards couple more than $1.7 million in surgery lawsuit Associated Press LEXINGTON, Ky. - A Lexington hospital was ordered to pay more than $1.7 million to a south-central Kentucky couple who said a sponge was left in the woman's body after surgery. A Fayette County jury awarded Helen Hammons of London $1.5 million for pain and suffering, $48,165 in medical expenses and $1,125 in lost wages. Her husband, Ray, was awarded $200,000 for lost companionship. The couple sued Central Baptist Hospital after Helen Hammons had a hysterectomy June 2004. In September 2004, Hammons complained of abdominal pain and went back to see Dr. Helle G. Bradley, who performed the surgery. Bradley ordered diagnostic tests that found the sponge inside her, said attorney Benny Epling II of Lexington, who represented the hospital, nurses Lisa Bradford and Cynthia Blair and operating room technician Craig Harris. About a month later, Hammons had the sponge removed at St. Joseph's Hospital, Epling said. During the one-day trial, the hospital never denied wrongdoing. "Any time a sponge is left in the patient, it's the hospital's fault," Epling said. Ruth Ann Childers, a spokeswoman for Central Baptist, said mistakes like the one that led to the lawsuit are rare and the hospital has strict protocols to account for instruments. Bradley was dismissed from the lawsuit several months ago because all parties agreed she was not at fault.