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Foreign Objects Left in Body after Surgery


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4/21/2011
Jeffrey H. Dover
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Approximately 40 million people undergo a surgery with anesthesia every year in this country and with so many surgeries comes the potential for errors.  One common surgical mistake that many people are unaware of is a foreign object being left in a person's body after surgery. According to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations, as many as 1,500 Americans retain a foreign object within their bodies following a surgical procedure each year.

There are a number of different objects that can be left behind by a surgeon or surgical assistant, the most common of which are instruments or sponges. Many cases of foreign object retention after surgery occur in the abdomen, vagina and thorax. The risk of having a foreign object left in the body increases when certain scenarios occur, such as:
  • Emergencies. If an emergency procedure is required, there may be less chance for optimal organization during the operation. This leaves the opportunity for instruments and sponges to go unaccounted for and forgotten about during the procedure.
  • Unexpected complications. If a complication arises during a procedure that the surgical team didn't plan on, it is easy for a surgical implement to be lost in the shuffle and subsequently left behind.
  • Surgeries on obese patients. The likelihood of retaining a foreign object following a surgical procedure is increased in any patients who suffer from a very high body mass index (BMI).
The dangers of having a foreign object left inside the body after a surgery include lacerations, infections, severe pain and even death. Because this type of surgical error is completely avoidable, these situations often result in a medical malpractice lawsuit.


Category: Medical Malpractice


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