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Surgical errors: When the surgeon leaves behind something

If you're like many people, you might wonder if your surgeon is going to leave something inside of you during your surgical procedure. This is a relatively rare occurrence; however, it can be a very costly mistake.

The most common item that's left behind? A surgical sponge. Nurses are supposed to count those sponges to make sure none are missing before a surgeon starts sewing a patient shut. However, when a sponge is out of sight and full of blood, it can be very difficult to locate. Most are left in the abdomen, pelvis, thoracic cavity and the vagina. These sponges can be prone to collecting bacteria, more so than a drill bit or a needle. Those are the other items that are commonly left in patients.

In 2012, a University of North Carolina study found that radiofrequency detection systems are the most cost-effective and best way to make sure all sponges are accounted for. This technology found 23 sponges over 11 months, according to the study. In addition, it was found that surgeons will close incisions in almost half of a cases where the number of sponges and the right number of sponges were not the same. This is often due to a surgeon wanting to make sure that a patient came out from under the anesthesia too long.

Surgical errors can cause many problems for patients, including having to have other surgeries. If you want to learn more about what you can do if you suffer a surgical error, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. He or she can advise you of your legal options.

Source: The Washington Post, "When your surgeon accidentally leaves something inside you," Lenny Bernstein, accessed May 11, 2016

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