Featured News 2018 Malpractice That Occurs Daily: Items Left Behind in Surgery

Malpractice That Occurs Daily: Items Left Behind in Surgery

When something as simple as a miscount leaves a sponge inside of a patient after an operation, not only can this leaven patients with debilitating pain, but it can cost a great deal in medical treatment to correct. In some cases, complications can threaten the lives of patients. While such errors are supposed to be "never events", it's been reported that such mistakes happen nearly 12 times daily.

For the record, a never event is an event that is always preventable and is virtually always grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. These are not freak accidents—they're the fruit of negligence, plain and simple.

The Consequences of Retained Surgical Items

Never events are always devastating.

For instance, one cesarean section left a hand-sized sponge inside of the mother. Her stomach distended over the course of the following weeks, leaving her with bowels that would not function. An emergency surgery took hours to extricate the sponge from her swollen intestine.

She stayed in the hospital for almost three weeks after that to recover.

This easily preventable mistake led to severe pain, costly medical expenses, and even threatened that mother's life. In other cases, patients have permanently lost sections of the intestines, while some succumb to their injuries.

According to a USA Today investigation, while surgical tools such as clamps get accidently sewn up inside patients, about 67 percent of the time the left-behind item is a sponge. Twenty-one percent of the time, other objects like broken tools, tubing, etc. were left inside the patient. How often do these mistakes get made? According to the report, an item is 'retained' by the patient 1 out of every 5,500 surgeries.

A Problem that Could Continue for the Foreseeable Future

The scary thing is, counting sponges after surgery do not fix the underlying problem. Recent studies by a New York medical center and a Minnesota Mayo Clinic discovered that 68 percent of the time when a sponge was left behind, the sponge counts indicated that everything was good to go. This startling figure exposes the serious lapses in attention that occur in operation rooms nationwide.

What about the alternative? Developers have created a radar system that would track the location of each sponge. If one was left inside the patient, the whole room would immediately know. Initial tests show that the system has the potential to eradicate sponge retention accidents forever. The thing is, hospitals see the system as an unnecessary and costly expense—despite the obvious benefits.

If you or a loved one have suffered from such a case of clear negligence, then you could be entitled to compensation to help cover lost income, medical bills, and pain and suffering. Learn more about your legal rights when you discuss your case with a medical malpractice attorney today!

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