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Foreign objects left behind after surgery is a problem

According to a new report, those in the Boston area who have surgery may leave the procedures with surgical instruments remaining inside them. Since 2005, nearly 800 people in the United States have had materials left in them after surgical procedures, which has put them in danger of serious health risks. The Joint Commission is a non-profit organization that attempts to make sure that hospitals are following the proper protocols as far as safety is concerned.

Most surgical tools left behind are seen on X-rays that are performed mostly if the patient complains of pain or discomfort, or during a follow-up visit after the patient has left the hospital. Surgical errors of this type were nine times more likely to occur during an emergency procedure and four times more likely to take place if there was an unexpected change in a procedure. Between 2005 and 2012, there were 772 occasions of foreign objects left in patients, which resulted in 16 deaths. In the majority of these cases, the patients were required to extend their stays in the hospital.

According to the study, most of these incidents were caused by lack of procedure and policies as well as failure to communicate. Doctors do rely on specific protocols as far as counting is concerned; however, most are subject to human error. The report calls for a stricter, more standardized version of a counting system, which would require a nurse and a tech to count followed by confirmation by the surgeon. The system was tested at a children's hospital and resulted in a 50 percent reduction in surgical instruments left behind in just one year.

All surgeries carry a risk; however, sometimes negligence can cause serious injury or death. Those who believe that they have suffered as a result of medical malpractice may benefit from speaking with a medical malpractice attorney. Such an attorney could review the case and determine if compensation is a viable avenue to pursue.

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

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