Surgery can be a very invasive form of care. A licensed surgeon will cut into someone’s body to remove a tumor, implant a medical device or repair a damaged joint. Surgery can treat conditions that would otherwise affect someone for life or potentially cause their death.
However, it comes with a variety of risks. Sometimes, doctors make mistakes during surgery that end up negatively affecting their patients. Leaving objects behind someone’s body after surgery, also known as retained foreign bodies, is a serious concern.
How frequently does a mistake like that occur in modern operating rooms?
Retained foreign bodies are surprisingly common
Although people might assume that a surgeon and their support staff overlooking scalpels, clamps, sponges or gauze when closing someone’s incision is rare, research says otherwise. Modern research estimates that roughly 1,500 patients each year have retained foreign bodies after surgery just in the United States.
Dozens of times each week, medical professionals across the country have to arrange to perform revision procedures to remove a foreign object left behind in somebody after surgery. Such errors are most common during surgery on the torso as opposed to the limbs or head.
Infection and secondary trauma are both possible after medical professionals leave foreign objects inside a patient. Not only can revision procedures be expensive, but they can lead to secondary consequences. Patients may have a longer recovery time and more complications than they would likely have experienced if the mistakes had never occurred. People can lose weeks of wages and have substantially higher medical bills.
Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is a reasonable response to a surgery that ended with a retained foreign body.