When Surgeons Leave Unwanted Gifts In Your Body
While it’s difficult to imagine, thousands of surgery patients suffer months—even years of distress—because a retained foreign body is inadvertently left behind due to medical personnel errors. When items such as clamps, forceps, sponges and other items are left behind after an operation, there can be severe repercussions, and even death. If your or a loved one has had such an experience, it might behoove you to speak with an experienced local personal injury attorney.
How Often Do These Errors Occur?
Estimates have it that a couple of these incidents occur in a typical hospital every single year. Patients feel good upon discharge, only to suddenly battle with nausea, pain, or other digestive issues down the road. Oftentimes they suffer through these symptoms without connecting them to an operation that occurred weeks or months earlier. When symptoms finally become intolerable, they ultimately wind up back in the emergency room where the improbable truth comes out: their health issues are all connected to medical supplies that were left behind in their bodies following some kind of surgical procedure.
Sponges and Gauze
In situations of materials left in the body, sponges and gauze are the number one offenders. That’s because they become difficult to detect after becoming blood-soaked, especially in larger caverns of the body like the abdomen, pelvis, thoracic cavity, or vagina. Although nurses are expected to count such materials before and after an operation, it’s easy to see how a miscount could occur, particularly when emergency procedures occur during high-stress incidents when time is of the essence. Unfortunately, checklists, protocols, and the very best of intentions cannot eliminate every single error.
Technology can Help
Recent advances in bar coding and radiofrequency detection systems are being heralded as an efficient way to record the number of sponges used during a medical procedure. One study notes that counting errors are reduced by as much as 90 percent with such technology. Nonetheless, such procedures are only recommended as a back-up to manual counts.
Dollars and Cents
In addition to the pure misery associated with these kinds of medical mistakes, the average tab to remove these left-behind items is generally over $60,000. How costly are the associated lawsuits? Some are in the millions of dollars. The La Plata & Waldorf personal injury lawyers at The Law Office of Hammad S. Matin, P.A. understand that it’s not just about dollars and cents in a situation like this. It’s about human suffering, lost productivity, and much, much more. To discuss the legal possibilities, contact us for a confidential consultation today.