The Frighteningly Common Occurrence of Left Behind Surgical Instruments

The medical community refers to them as “never” incidents. However, it has been found that surgical instruments are left behind in the bodies of patients about a dozen times every day, according to a report by USA Today.

Often, sponges used to soak up blood and other fluids during surgery are the most commonly retained surgical items. While these may not seem as serious as forceps, clamps, and other instruments, their presence inside a body can quickly cause major damage and lasting repercussions.

Studies have shown “retained surgical item” incidents may happen anywhere between 4,500 and 6,000 times every year, while government estimates show it at 3,000 times. In either case, sponges make up approximately two-thirds of all incidents. Studies have shown that losing a surgical item is more likely to occur in emergency situations, surgeries with unexpected complications, or with patients who have a larger abdominal cavity. However, anyone can be at risk due to negligent actions.

On average, hospitalization due to a lost instrument costs $60,000. However, sponge tracking systems costing only eight to 12 dollars are available for medical facilities. Unfortunately, USA Today found that fewer than 15% of all U.S. hospitals are currently using electronic tracking devices on sponges.

Medical malpractice LawyersWhen a body retains an instrument, numerous complications can occur. Often, the presence of a foreign object can create infections in any organs that are nearby. Additionally, the pressure that is placed on the organ can disrupt its function. What worsens these dangers is that the cause of the injuries and illnesses that a patient is experiencing is often not caught for weeks or possibly months. In this time, conditions can worsen, causing major damage on organs.

Once found, surgery to remove the objects can leave major scars and the damage done can severely impede organ function and result in constant pain.

At Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley, we are dedicated to the recovery and future wellbeing of those who have been injured by negligent and reckless medical staff. If you or a loved one has been injured, get in touch with one of our Beverly Hills medical malpractice lawyers to learn more about your rights and options in seeking compensation for losses. We can be reached at 213-514-8332.