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Surgical equipment left inside a patient a prevalent problem


When a surgery is necessary in Boston there's an inherent trust between doctor and patient. Part of that is believing that the doctor and medical staff will pay strict attention to what they're doing during the procedure and won't make egregious mistakes. Complications are, in certain instances, understandable. But if they happen because of a careless surgeon or negligent operating room staff, it's particularly disturbing. This happens all too frequently as a news report shows.

Since 2005, at least 800 people found themselves victimized by surgical equipment left inside a patient. The items have ranged from small to large sponges, needles and various instruments having been left behind. This can lead to health problems in the aftermath and even death. Sixteen people died in these incidents between 2005 and 2012. 95 percent of the people required longer hospital stays as a result of these mistakes. The mistakes were nine times more frequent when the surgical procedure was done in the event of an emergency.

Hospitals bear the brunt of the costs associated with surgical errors of this kind. On average, the medical facilities are paying nearly $170,000 per each patient for legal costs and to fix the mistakes. The errors were found to have been made due to the imperfect procedures that medical staff are required to follow. Doctors and others in the operating room might fail to communicate during the procedure. Simple miscounts are known to cause these incidents as a nurse fails to correctly count the number of sponges before and after the procedure.

Improving the way in which protocol is followed is one recommendation that has shown positive results. For example, having two people counting pieces of equipment such as sponges and comparing the counts before completing surgeries.

An option for people who have been subjected to this type of mistake is litigation. Speaking to an attorney experienced in pursuing doctors and hospitals that have committed surgical errors is wise before moving forward.

Source: CBS News, "Nearly 800 surgical tools left in patients since 2005: Report," Ryan Jaslow, Accessed on Sept. 9, 2014

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