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Wexner Medical Center to pay $25K for surgical instrument left in man’s stomach

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center has agreed to pay $25,000 to the estate of a man who said a surgical tool was left inside his stomach following an operation.

James Thaxton Jr., an inmate at Mansfield Correctional Institution, filed a lawsuit against the medical center in the Court of Claims of Ohio in March 2015. In his complaint, written by his lawyer, Richard Swope, Thaxton said he was transported to the Wexner Center in August 2014 to have surgery to remove cancer.

After the surgery, Thaxton was moved to Corrections Medical Center for recovery but returned to the Wexner Center after he began experiencing “immense pain,” according to the document.

Thaxton attributed the pain to a surgical retractor, an instrument used to separate the edges of an incision or wound or to hold back organs and tissues during an operation, that was left inside of his stomach by the surgeon at OSU.

The retractor was later removed in a second surgery that occurred in September 2014.

In the complaint, Swope said the surgeon’s mistake caused Thaxton to suffer “extreme pain and mental anguish” and claimed the injury caused by the retractor was “permanent and progressive in nature.”

He further argued that the injury would impair Thaxton’s ability to work and would cause him to incur additional medical, hospital and doctor expenses.

In its answer, written by Daniel Forsythe, the assistant attorney general and counsel for the defendant, the Wexner Center admitted that Thaxton sometimes received care at the medical center. It denied the allegations of negligence that Thaxton claimed had led to his pain and suffering.

On April 13, the Wexner Center reached a settlement with Sandra Thaxton, James Thaxton’s daughter. Sandra Thaxton was named the administrator of James Thaxton’s estate after the latter died in June 2015.

The case was settled for $25,000. As part of the settlement, Sandra Thaxton and the estate of James Thaxton agreed that they will not make any further claims against OSU in regards to this case. The settlement and subsequent payment also did not equate to admission of liability by OSU.

The agreement was approved by the judge on June 17.

Swope, James Thaxton’s attorney, described the settlement as “fair.”

The Wexner Center did not respond to a request for comment.

Nick Roll contributed to this story.

Editor’s Note 7/28: The feature photo accompanying this article has been replaced.


  1. The lawyer will get half of the settlement, this is a disgusting settlement. It should have been a lot more, OSU Medical can certainly afford it.

    • Bob,

      OSU Medical Center is actually experiencing a dire financial crisis. They can’t even afford to hire more doctors. That fancy new building was built with Wexner’s Money and an additional 60 years of debt. Once their DSH payments end soon, they will be in more trouble. And remember, OSU Hospital East is hemorrhaging money.

      I don’t know much about medical settlements but I’m sure any other plaintiff would have demanded a lot more.

    • I totally agree. Americans who go to the hospital have to live in fear of infections and shoddy, careless surgery. Osu hospitals even left a surgical sponge inside Woody Hayes, and it killed him. I really thought they would be more careful with an Ohio icon. Nope, guess not.

  2. Hey how about not using a picture of The James on a story about the Med Center bc guess what that’s libel :’)

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