How objects may be left behind during surgery

by | Jun 1, 2020 | medical malpractice

Surgical teams in Louisiana might be more likely to make an error if they are fatigued, if there is an emergency during the procedure or if there is a change in the surgical team. Although leaving objects in patients during surgery is uncommon, it does happen several thousand times a year throughout the country.

Forceps, towels, scalpels and clamps are among the instruments that could be left behind. Most commonly, the objects are needles or sponges. Sponges are used to soak up blood during the operation and could be more easily overlooked by a team because they can resemble organs or tissue. If the patient has a high body mass or there is a great deal of blood loss, it is also more likely that an object could be left behind. One California patient had clamps left behind in his body after two separate surgeries.

Some hospitals have begun using bar-coded sponges to help track their location. Patients might not know that an object has been left behind for months or even years. While in some cases there could be no health problems as a result, in other situations, the error could cause serious or even fatal health issues. These problems could include pain, internal bleeding, swelling, infection and losing a portion of an internal organ.

People who have been harmed by a medical error may want to consult an attorney to discuss their rights. Other surgical errors might include wrong-site surgery or doing the wrong procedure altogether. Incorrect or missed diagnoses or the wrong medication are other examples of medical errors. If these happen as a result of negligence, the medical provider or facility may be held responsible for medical malpractice, and compensation might be paid to the patient as a result. A medical malpractice suit may be settled in or out of court.