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Surgical items left behind in operating sites

Patients who are getting ready to enter the operating room may be nervous about going under the knife. Although meeting with the surgeon prior to the procedure may make you feel more at ease, you still face certain risks and may become the victim of a surgical mistake. In addition to operating on the wrong body part or performing a procedure on the wrong patient, surgical professionals can leave equipment behind in patient’s operating sites. At Wilson & Parlett, we know that the occurrence of these incidents are far and few between, but they are actually more common than you may think.

Hospitals are not required to report incidents where surgical items are left behind within a patient after a procedure. Research and data shows, however, that these situations affect as many as 6,000 people a year. Although some cases of retained items involve clamps and other types of instruments, most involve cotton gauze that are used to soak up blood and other fluids during the procedure. If a sponge is left behind in the body, it can adhere to a body organ and cause a major infection.

In an attempt to minimize the risk of leaving a sponge behind in a surgical site, some hospitals have implemented procedures to account for items before the patient’s final suture is completed. Despite counting techniques and other more innovative methods, incidents involving retained items and surgical errors still occur.

To learn more information about surgical errors and how they can affect patients, visit our page on medical negligence.



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