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Nearly 800 items left in patients


Posted on behalf of Michael D'Amico of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Oct 29, 2013 in Surgical Errors

A new report from The Joint Commission may alarm some Connecticut residents. According to the nonprofit healthcare watchdog, surgical errors have led to nearly 800 surgical items being left in patients since 2005. In 772 instances, items like surgical sponges, instruments, needles and other tools were left in a patient after a surgical procedure. According to a spokesman for The Joint Commission, this is a well-known and easily avoided issue.

When someone leaves the operating room with an object left inside of them, it can lead to pain, discomfort and even death. Of the reported instances of implements being left in patients from 2005 to 2012, 16 people died as a result of this error. An overwhelming majority of the affected patients, 95 percent, had to stay in the hospital for a longer duration. These objects are usually discovered when someone goes in for X-rays or when a patient returns after a surgery complaining of pain or discomfort.

The locations where something like this is most likely to occur include operating rooms, labor and delivery rooms and locations where invasive procedures are performed. The chances of someone having an implement left in them after a surgery increased by nine times if it was an emergency surgery and by four times if the type of procedure changed unexpectedly.

If patients are harmed as the result of medical professionals' negligence, they may not be aware of their rights and options for legal recourse. However, patients who have been harmed through medical errors could file claims to request that the medical service providers cover the additional expenses that were caused by the errors.

Source: CBS News, "Nearly 800 surgical tools left in patients since 2005: Report", Ryan Jaslow, October 18, 2013