Medical Malpractice When a Medical Tool is Left Behind in Surgery

Medical Malpractice When a Medical Tool is Left Behind in Surgery

In just one serious surgery, it is estimated that approximately 300 surgical tools are used. In a larger surgery, doctors might use up to 600 different tools! The use of so many different devices can be overwhelming even for the most skilled surgeon, which is why it is not unheard of for certain tools to get left behind in the body cavity at the time of operation. According to a new report that was released, hundreds of surgical tools could be left behind in patients in just a single year. From 2005-2013, in fact, it was estimated that over 800 tools were left behind in patients, putting them at risk for some of the most severe harm.

The truth is that leaving a tool behind isn’t just outright negligence; it can also lead to serious damage on physical, emotional, and financial levels. It was estimated that, between 2005-2012, approximately 16 deaths took place due to a surgeon leaving a tool behind in a patient. In many of these cases, patients had a much longer stay in the hospital, which could be extremely taxing on somebody who was not expecting it. These incidents most commonly took place in operating rooms, labor and delivery rooms, and ambulatory surgery centers for invasive procedures.

You might be surprised to find that many of these incidents took place when an operation was being performed in an emergency setting. This actually does not come as a surprise, seeing as there is a wider chance for more hustle and bustle in emergency rooms, which means that more mistakes could be made in a shorter period of time.

When a doctor, surgeon, or other medical professional leaves an instrument inside the body, this could easily give rise to a medical malpractice claim, as these incidents are solely caused by negligence alone.

Common Objects Left Inside the Body During Surgery 

Surgeons are estimated to use hundreds of surgical tools during surgery, but some of the instruments used are more commonly left behind than others. Here are just a few examples of the tools that are most commonly left behind:

  • Sponges
  • Scalpels
  • Scissors
  • TIPS/shunts
  • Tweezers
  • Needles
  • Surgical masks
  • Gloves
  • Tubes
  • Scopes
  • Clamps

Of course, there are many other objects left behind. Above all, the two most common objects left behind, according to research, are needles and sponges. Sponges are extremely difficult for surgeons to keep track of on some occasions, as they most commonly blend in with organs. Some of the most common areas where objects are left include the abdomen and chest cavity.

The reason why the amount of objects being left behind is so great is due to the fact that hospitals rely on nurses and technicians to keep track of the objects that are being used in surgery so that surgeons can continue to focus on the job at hand, especially in an emergency situation. However, technicians are sometimes overworked and are fatigued, especially during a chaotic scenario, which might make them lose track of the instruments being used. Of course, there is never any reason for this to occur and negligence might be at play.

How Many Hospitals Are Working to Prevent Surgery Negligence 

To combat the high amounts of objects left behind by medical professionals, hospitals are taking charge and working on measures that will help them keep track of medical objects on a higher basis. Some hospitals are using sponge-tracking technologies to ensure that no sponges are left behind, since this is one of the most common mistakes that is made in the emergency room. Not only is this a cost-effective measure, but it seems to be working based on the research that is being conducted.

The sponges are bar-coded and scanned before being used for surgery, which lessens the chances of human error occurring in these cases. After surgery, sponges are scanned again and surgeons will discover that all sponges are accounted for. This is one easy way that hospitals can work to reduce the likelihood of these incidents.

The Severe Consequences of Retained Surgical Items 

Medical Malpractice When a Medical Tool is Left Behind in SurgeryLeaving behind certain medical tools during surgery never ends with good results. In fact, it is considered medical malpractice because not only is it completely avoidable, but it can cause serious harm to a patient. Patients will typically feel discomfort in the areas that reject foreign objects which were left behind during surgery while still in the hospital. In some cases, it could take weeks or months for a patient to realize that something is wrong, and by then it could cause large amounts of harm to a patient who never suspected it.

The fact of the matter is that leaving behind a surgical piece of equipment could cause complications, such as long-term, disabling harm or infections that wreak havoc on the entire body. In certain cases, the consequences become so severe in such a short amount of time that the patient could lose their life to one of these infections. Because of the nature of these incidents and the likelihood for harm, medical malpractice lawsuits are brought every year due to these reasons. The patients involved might ask for financial reimbursement for damages, losses, and pain and suffering that they have felt as a result.

The costs of dealing with the aftermath of a retained surgical item could cost over $60,000. Insurance companies have been known to deny covering these costs, citing necessity as a major issue, which means that you might be forced to fend for yourself. This means that you will have to turn to an experienced attorney who can help you file a New Jersey medical malpractice lawsuit, which is known to cost hospitals approximately $200,000 on average due to emotional and physical damages.

Retaining the Help of an Experienced New Jersey Medical Malpractice Attorney 

Our medical malpractice attorneys at Brady, Brady & Reilly understand how high the incident rate is for medical malpractice in hospitals and many other areas where we receive care. In fact, hundreds of thousands of people are impacted by these cases each and every day, which means that you will need a skilled attorney on your side to help you avoid vast amounts of damages that you cannot cover on your own. Our personal injury attorneys have handled many cases protecting the rights of clients and would like to offer our support to you at this time. Please reach out to us at (201) 997-0030 for more information on how we can assist you in your time of need.