Objects Left in a Patients Body

The average surgery utilizes 250-300 tools and accessories (scalpels, clamps, sponges, monitors, etc). Most hospitals have systems in place for keeping a count of these items to avoid anything being left in a patient's body during surgery. However because nurses and doctors are humans who work stressful jobs with long hours and constantly changing situations, they can miscount or commit oversights.

Examples of items that get left behind in a surgical wound are listed according to their frequency of occurrence: Sponge, surgical towels, clamps, retractors, suction tips, tubing, gauze, glove, electrodes, surgical tools, monitor (or parts if they are breaking or failing). The effects of objects left behind can be anything from unnoticeable to life-threatening. The adverse effects of left-behind objects are:

  • Infection from mild to sepsis shock. The body's immune system generally detects foreign items and mounts a hearty attack against them.
  • Tumor development as the body forms a calcified envelope around offending objects it cannot break apart.
  • Bleeding.
  • Pain.
  • A longer hospital stay or readmission to fix the problem (extract the object).
  • Possibly another surgery.
  • Complications from the object obstructing, puncturing, or lacerating internally.
  • Possibly death.

Some factors increase the risk of objects being left in the patient’s body. These include emergency surgeries, procedures that encounter unplanned changes, procedures that involve a lot of blood loss, and procedures that involve more than one surgical team. Lastly, larger persons (those having a high body mass index) have a higher incidence of objects being left in them. 

Human oversight, and therefore negligence, is the reason for objects being left in surgical wounds. If an injury or death of a loved one resulted from the negligence of a surgeon or surgical team member, you could be eligible for damages.

Please contact the Sweeney Law Firm. Let our medical experts review the facts to determine if you have a medical malpractice case. The Sweeney Law Firm reviews possible medical malpractice cases involving objects left in surgical wounds at no charge and works on a contingency fee basis. There is no cost for representation unless there is a cash recovery for you.