You shouldn't need an appeals court to tell you it either, but apparently you do, as evidenced by a Division I Court of Appeals ruling today. In a case coming out of Kirkland, a woman named Katherine Ripley, and her husband, Daniel Ripley, sued Ms. Ripley's surgeon, William Lanzer (as well as his nursing staff and the Evergreen Medical Center (where he worked)), after Ms. Ripley (believe it or not!) awoke from surgery with the surgeon's blade still in her sewed-up knee. (It had come loose from what was later found to be a defective handle.)
The first attempt at recovering the blade split it in two, so Lanzer & co. had to sew her up and make a second go at it the next day. Now, Ms. Ripley says, her knee gives her all sorts of problems. Lanzer contended that she didn't call experts to prove that he'd been negligent or that the buried blade and the two removals are the cause of her pain. For that for that reason, he argued, the case shouldn't go forward.
But the court ruled that the blade in her knee fell under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur (Latin for "the thing speaks for itself"). Which means that if a surgeon's blade remains in the patient, the assumption is that the surgeon's been negligent, or at least that there's a good enough possibility of same to warrant a trial. So mind your blades, docs.