Surgical Instruments Left Inside Patients

March 31, 2017

In the U.S., medical malpractice – the reckless or negligent actions of medical professionals – results in thousands of serious injuries and even deaths each year.  Shockingly, each year medical instruments are left inside of surgical patients: this is a serious act of malpractice.  Contact the Easton personal injury law firm of Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC today at 888-777-7098 if you have been injured due malpractice of a medical professional.

How Often are Medical Instruments Left Inside Patients During Surgery?

Unfortunately, medical instruments are left inside of patients far too often.  A CBS News article reported that in the U.S. an estimated 800 people had surgical devices left in them between 2005 and 2013.  Another article released by the Associated Press gave the following examples:

  • A man in Ohio had two surgical towels left in his body after surgery at a Veterans hospital. The man won a $275,000 settlement.
  • California regulators fined a hospital in that state $50,000 for leaving a towel in a patient after abdominal surgery.
  • A Kentucky jury awarded a woman $2.5 million after she required surgery to remove a sponge left inside her after a hysterectomy three years earlier. Unfortunately, part of her small intestine had to be removed.

These are just a few examples.  Surgical professionals must take reasonable steps to ensure that instruments are not left inside of patients after surgery.  Sponges, towels, sharp instruments and other items used during a surgery can cause infections, internal bleeding and other serious complications if left inside of the patient.

Contact one of our dedicated personal injury and medical malpractice attorneys today if you or a loved one has been injured due to the reckless or negligent act of a medical professional.

What Steps Should be Taken to Prevent Instruments From Being Left Inside?

Medical professionals must take steps to mitigate the risk of unaccounted for surgical instruments.  The Association of periOperative Registered Nurses recommends counting all sponges, sharp instruments, and related items at five different times during the surgery process:

  • Before the procedure to establish a baseline,
  • Before closure of a cavity within a cavity,
  • Before wound closure begins,
  • At skin closure, and
  • At the time staff changes.

New technologies, such as digital barcodes, require medical instruments to be checked-in and checked-out before and after surgeries.  Technologies like this help to ensure that equipment is accounted for and not left inside a patient.  Operating teams may choose other procedures to help prevent instruments from being left inside patients after surgery, but in all cases there must be reasonable protections for the patient.

Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Law Firm to Help Me?

Hospitals have significant resources that can be used to fight lawsuits.  Hospitals have their own internal legal staff that has the sole responsibility of looking after the legal affairs of the hospital.  This is one of the reasons that it is so important to have an Easton personal injury law firm dedicated to representing you.

Contact Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC today at 888-777-7098 if you have been injured through the recklessness or negligence of a medical profession.