Needle Left In Patient, Doc Liable

Reveler is gored by the bull ''Ermitano'' during the sixth run of the Miura fighting bulls at San Fermin Fiestas in Pamplona, northern Spain, Sunday, July 12, 2009. The fiestas 'Los San Fermines' held since 1591, attract tens of thousands of foreign visitors each year for nine days of revelry, morning bull-runs and afternoon bullfights. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos
A judge found a physician negligent in a medical malpractice lawsuit accusing the doctor of losing a surgical needle in a patient's abdomen and then closing the opening after he couldn't find it.

State Supreme Court Justice Eileen Bransten found Dr. Douglas M. Heymann liable for the mishap during hernia surgery in 2001. The needle eventually lodged in 55-year-old Christopher Faas' liver, where it remains.

The decision was released Wednesday; the amount of damages Faas will be awarded will be decided at trial.

Bransten dismissed Faas' motion for a summary judgment against another surgeon, Dr. Joseph Iraci, and Lenox Hill Hospital, ruling those cases should be tried. The trials are scheduled for Aug. 2.

Heymann had called Iraci in to help him find the needle, and the two doctors spent hours searching for it, eventually closing up Faas' abdomen without locating it.

Faas' lawyer, Anthony Di Pietro, said Faas' health is at great risk as a result of the mishap: "Every time he feels a pain, he wonders if this needle is killing him," he said.

Michael Gallay, a lawyer for the defendants, declined to comment.