On December 15, 2000, Margaret Palombo went to the University Hospital’s Ocean Breeze campus and underwent surgery. The University Hospital’s Ocean Breeze campus is located on Staten Island. Palombo, who is now 61 years old, underwent surgery on her liver, according to court reports.
According to court documents, her surgeon used gauze while operating on Palombo that day. After surgery, Palombo left the hospital, but only to return two weeks later. The court reports indicate that two weeks after Palombo’s first surgery, the surgeon admitted Palombo back into the hospital. At that point, her surgeon diagnosed Palombo with an intra-abdominal abscess, which occurs when there is an infection in the abdominal area.
After Palombo received a diagnosis of intra-abdominal abscess, she scheduled a second abdominal surgery for January 1, 2001. During surgery, the surgeon discovered that a piece of gauze was left in her abdominal region—“under the fascia, or connective tissue, which runs throughout the body, court papers said.”
Palombo did not learn about the gauze that was found that day until February of 2009. For more than eight years following Palombo’s second surgery, Palombo did not know what happened. In February of 2009, Palombo obtained medical records from the hospital, and until February 2009, Palombo claims that “she had no reason to believe a foreign body had been in her abdomen.”