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Objects left in patients after surgery

On Behalf of | Jun 17, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor in Albuquerque, New Mexico, doesn’t follow a basic standard of care, causing patient harm. Surgical errors count as malpractice, which includes several types of potential mistakes. A common type of surgical error is leaving instruments inside the patient’s body, often called retained surgical items (RSI).

Facts and stats on retained surgical items

A Mayo Clinic study revealed that 1 in 5,500 surgeries ended with a surgical object left inside a patient. Other reports found RSIs cost patients an extra $60,000 in hospital expenses and another $200,000 in malpractice expenses. Retained items are more likely to occur in emergency rooms, during unexpected procedure changes or when staff is fatigued.

The most common object left in a patient is sponges, making up 70% of medical malpractice cases. Sponges often get left because they could resemble the color of body organs. Some other common instruments left in patients include wires, forceps, tweezers, scalpels, towels, blades, scissors, needles and suction tips.

Risks of surgical objects left in patients

The damage caused by retained surgical objects can range from mild to severe, which could cause patient death. Gossipyboma is the medical term for retained surgical towels and sponges, deriving from the Latin word for cotton, “gossypium.” This condition commonly develops as a bowel tumor or a mass causing pain, but it may not show symptoms for months.

A retained surgical item may cause several primary symptoms, including tenderness or pain on or near the surgical site, fatigue, headaches, nausea, fever, and swelling. Some more serious symptoms include digestive issues, abscesses, unexplained weight loss, coughing blood and a gradual decline in health.

Individuals have the right to get compensated for injuries caused by medical malpractice. However, pursuing compensation isn’t easy against hospitals, so a person needs a good defense team to get a fair settlement.


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