Everyone knows that the hotel industry battles to keep the towels from leaving with the guests. But what about hospitals giving away towels without charge?
Bonnie Valle had surgery for emphysema at the Cleveland Clinic in 1995. Her daughter, Jeanne Clark, claimed that her mother always felt that something was left in her left side during the procedure, that she felt something “move” and complained about the discomfort. Sadly, Mrs. Valle died in 2002 at age 60. She donated her body to the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine in Rootstown, where a dissection revealed a green surgical cloth the size of a large hand towel in her left lung.
Her family sued following her death, claiming medical negligence, that because Valle’s doctors never found the towel, she suffered serious complications, incurred medical expenses and ultimately died. The attorneys for The Cleveland Clinic disagreed. The defense argued that the towel had no effect on Mrs. Valle’s health.
In a letter to the medical school, Dr. Jeffrey Miller, Mrs. Valle’s Canton-based doctor, wrote that he did not think the towel affected the length or quality of Valle’s life. In incredibly insensitive commentary, even for a physician, Miller wrote, “She lived seven years … which is certainly as well as one would have expected her to survive given her severe emphysema and poor pulmonary function and overall condition.”
Last Thursday, after two weeks of trial, the trial judge dismissed claims against Jeffrey Miller. At that time, The Cleveland Clinic settled with Bonnie Valle’s family. No terms of the confidential agreement were disclosed.