Blumenthal Questions VA Secretary About Scalpel Left in Man’s Abdomen

During a Senate hearing on Wednesday, Senator Richard Blumenthal had many questions for the VA secretary that led the department's first public acknowledgment of wrongdoing after a scalpel was found in a veteran's abdomen following surgery nearly four years ago

"I’ve seen the X-ray of the scalpel and frankly, I was appalled," Blumenthal said during the Washington hearing.

In response, VA Secreaty David Shulkin admitted the incident shouldn’t have happened and apologized. 

"We do acknowledge responsibility for this. This veteran has suffered enough," Shulkin said.

That acknowledgment is the first the VA has made since the story was first reported when the Army veteran, Glenford Turner, filed a lawsuit against the agency on Tuesday. Turner's lawyer said they are suing the VA after the agency previously failed to respond to his administrative claim for medical negligence. 

The 61-year-old was suffering from dizziness and abdominal pain after a prostate cancer procedure was performed on him nearly four years ago. He went to the West Haven campus of the VA Connecticut Healthcare System on March 29, 2017, for an MRI, and doctors determined a scalpel was left in his abdomen, according to Faxon Law Group, who represent Turner.

"Over six months later, the VA has still not responded incredibly to the claim beyond a simple acknowledgment of its receipt," Blumenthal said while questioning Shulkin.

"It’s an event that should never happen and I am deeply sorry that any veteran should have to undergo this," Shulkin said.

The VA said the doctor involved has apologized to the veteran and the agency is looking into what happened. They said they're making sure something like this never happens again.

NBC Connecticut reached out to the West Haven VA and has yet to hear back.

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