Let’s talk about foreign objects left inside patients after surgery. Now, I know what many of you are thinking right now, “Surgeons leaving medical objects inside a patient’s body? Pff, I’m sure that’s a myth!” Well, unfortunately it is not a myth.
No matter how difficult it may seem to believe that any surgeon could make such a disturbing and preventable mistake, statistics show that each year, about 20,000 Americans are leaving surgery with a little extra “bonus” inside their bodies. “The most bizarre thing is that even a surgeon with hundreds of successful surgeries behind his or her back can make this unacceptable and negligent mistake,” says a Philadelphia foreign objects left in patients attorney at The Weitz Firm, LLC.
It does not seem to help these 20,000 patients who become victims of URFO (unintended retention of foreign objects) or RSI (retained sponges and instruments) annually that surgeries are usually performed in the presence of nurses, assistants, anesthesiologists, and other members of hospital staff. It might get you thinking, “What are all these people looking at during the surgery? Are they checking their Instagram feed or what?”
Contrary to the popular belief, sponges are not the only foreign objects left inside a patient’s body after surgery. Surgeons in Pennsylvania and all across the United States also commonly forget to remove such objects as needles, pins, clips, and even scissors and scalpels prior to suturing the patient.
“Leaving these or any other surgical instrument inside a patient’s body may cause complications and can even lead to a fatal outcome,” warns our experienced foreign objects left in patients attorney in Philadelphia. In more than 90 percent of all medical malpractice cases involving URFO or RSI, the surgeon (or team of surgeons) and other medical professionals who were present during the surgery can be sued for committing medical malpractice.
In many cases, simply performing an additional surgery – which is most often performed by the same surgeon in the same hospital free of charge – to fix the mistake and remove the foreign object is not the end of the story. After all, foreign objects can cause life-long complications, pain and suffering, as well as severe infection. In fact, some patients may die from a foreign object being retained in their body for too long or if that object is pointed or sharp (e.g. scalpels, needles, scissors, etc.).
If a surgeon leaves a sharp and pointed medical tool such as a needle, scalpel or scissors inside a patient’s body, it can lacerate or puncture soft tissues, arteries, veins, vital organs, as well as cause internal bleeding, all of which can cause severe physical damage or even result in death, not to mention the tremendous amount of pain and suffering a patient has to go through when a foreign object has been left inside him or her after surgery .
While it might seem that having a soft item such as a sponge left in your body after the surgeon stitches you back up is a much more favorable alternative, it is not necessarily true. Soft items can accumulate bacteria over time and cause life-threatening infections.
Fact: Medical sponges account for nearly 70 percent of all objects left inside patients after surgery.
If you fear that a surgeon might have left a medical tool or any other object inside your body, do not hesitate to seek medical attention to confirm your fears or disprove the theory. If your fears are confirmed, do not hesitate to seek legal advice from a Philadelphia foreign objects left in patients lawyer from The Weitz Firm, LLC. Call our offices at 267-587-6240 for a free case evaluation.