Each year, up to 6,000 people throughout the United States leave an operating room with foreign objects still in their bodies. If a foreign object is left in a New Mexico patient’s body, it could cause significant health issues or death. Needles, sponges and scissors are among the objects that surgeons commonly forget to remove after a procedure is over. Tweezers, towels and clamps are also commonly left in patients after a surgical procedure is complete.
There are many reasons why an object isn’t removed from a patient. For instance, sponges may look similar to a person’s organs or tissue after soaking up blood. There may be a greater risk of foreign objects being left in a patient if multiple procedures need to be completed at once or if multiple surgical teams work on a patient.
Patients who have foreign objects in their bodies may experience pain, swelling, or a fever. In some cases, these and other symptoms will present themselves right away. However, it is also possible for patients to go months or years without knowing that something is inside of them. Hospitals have begun to scan sponges and other small objects in an effort to better keep track of them. Generally speaking, investing in modern technology is less expensive for hospitals than conducting an additional surgery to remove an object later.
Failing to remove an object from a person’s body may be an example of a surgical error that rises to the level of malpractice. People who have found themselves in such a situation might want to have an attorney’s help when seeking compensation for the damages that have been sustained.