What Happens When Surgeons Leave Objects Behind?

Posted on April 14, 2018 at 12:00pm by

There are certain types of surgical errors that are dubbed “never events” because they are so egregious that they should never occur. One type of surgical never event involves doctors leaving behind equipment inside of patients. As you can imagine, the consequences of this type of error are often horrific for patients and their families.

CNN recently published a story describing what can happen when objects are left behind after procedures. The article describes the story of a woman who had two surgical sponges left inside her for at least six years. She initially went to a primary care clinic in Japan with complaints that she had experienced bloating for three years. Doctors found the surgical sponges after ordering a CT scan. By the time the sponges were found, they had attached to the woman’s organs. It is suspected the sponges were left behind after a Cesarean section.

Cases like the one described above are also common in the US. Retained surgical items, such as sponges or gauze, affect 4,500 to 6,000 patients in the US each year. Patients who are harmed by retained surgical items may experience the following consequences.

  • Severe pain: Your body’s immune system will trigger an inflammatory response when surgical equipment is left behind. The response may cause swelling and pain.
  • Infections: Infections can occur when objects are left behind by surgeons. Some infections may be fatal.
  • Secondary surgeries: Once the retained surgical items are discovered, they need to be removed with a second corrective surgery. These procedures also expose patients to risks.
  • Death: Some patients can die due to the complications caused by retained surgical items.

Can I File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit for a Surgical Error?

You should speak with an attorney if you or a loved one were harmed by a surgical error. Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to seek damages from the hospital or surgeon for medical malpractice. Compensation from a lawsuit could help cover the costs associated with a surgical injury or death. The Atlantic City medical malpractice lawyers at Targan & Pender, P.C. have experience helping victims of medical negligence seek justice.



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