Objects Left Behind In the Bodies Of Surgery Patients?

Just how negligent can a surgeon be? An all-too-common occurrence recently has been doctors leaving objects behind in the patients they are operating on. This blatant example of medical malpractice can lead to infection, chronic pain, serious complications, and even death.

How often are foreign objects left inside of patients? The New England Journal of Medicine found that each year in the United States, 1,500 patients are the victims of such mistakes. In another study conducted by the Annals of Surgery in 2008 found that one out of 7,000 surgeries involves a left behind material or instrument. Here are some frightening examples:

  • A man had surgery to remove a tumor - but his surgeon left a 13-inch surgical retractor in his abdomen.
  • A woman discovered that part of a fetal heart rate monitor was left in her abdomen after c-section.
  • A man who went into the hospital for carpal tunnel surgery had a scalpel left inside his hand. The scalpel caused chronic pain for years, but was not discovered until a decade after the original surgery.
  • A woman who had a hysterectomy performed returned to the doctor with pain months later - she still had a surgical glove inside her body cavity.
  • A patient who went in for an arthroscopy in 2008 discovered that a needle had been left behind in her body.
  • In May 2007, a patient had his gallbladder removed - but a surgical pad was left behind, causing a dangerous obstruction.

The most common instrument left behind is the surgical sponge, followed closely by medical clamps, retractors, and electrodes. Any of these instruments and materials can cause dangerous complications such as organ tears or punctures, infections, and obstructions.

These medical mistakes also require second surgeries and other medical procedures, and a second recovery period - which often means multiple medical bills, lost wages, missed work, and other financial hardships.

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