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What should you know about retained surgical items?

On Behalf of | May 2, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

Surgeons have an obligation to provide excellent care for their patients. However, sometimes errors happen during the procedure and patients retain surgical items.

Surgical items get left behind more often than you may realize. According to the American College of Surgeons, patients retain a surgical item in about 1 out of every 5,500 surgeries. These incidents can have a serious impact on your health. You may experience severe internal injuries and spend more time in the hospital as doctors treat these new wounds. In some situations, a retained item can lead to death.

Which items do surgeons leave behind?

Doctors and nurses may forget to remove several different kinds of items as they operate. One study found that between October 2012 and March 2018, surgical staff left 14 implants and 102 instruments inside patients. Retained objects also included 33 needles and blades, as well as 52 catheters and drains. Additionally, surgeons may leave behind guide wires and surgical sponges.

How can surgeons prevent retained items?

There are several ways that people can ensure that items do not stay inside a patient. The surgical staff should experience minimal interruptions and distractions during a procedure. As they prepare to finish the surgery, people should examine each tool used inside the body to determine if there are any pieces missing. Additionally, staff members should go over the surgical site before they close it. Do they see any surgical sponges or guidewires remaining? Staff members may also want to verbally verify that they have the same number of tools at the beginning and end of a procedure.

If you think that your surgeon may have left an item behind, you should speak up. Immediate action may help decrease your chances of experiencing a complication.