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Massachusetts surgical errors in children

| Jan 28, 2015 | Surgical Errors

When a child in Newton is set to undergo surgery, the parents are unavoidably worried about what is going to happen. While the majority of doctors and medical professionals who are involved in the procedure take great care with any surgery, they are extra careful when children are involved. However, all the caution in the world does not avoid inevitable mistakes that can happen. Surgical errors may not happen particularly often, but they are still exceedingly dangerous. One such mistake is surgical equipment left inside a patient.

The surgeon’s mistake of leaving a piece of equipment in a patient is even more egregious when it happens to a child. Studies in recent years have shown that items, like sponges and other smaller instruments, can be left in a child after surgery. This is not a frequent mistake, but it can lead to extra costs of an average of up to $36,000 in extra treatment because of it. A study assessed over 1.9 million surgical records compiled over the course of 17 years looked at children who were operated on across the United States. In the study, 413 instances of surgical equipment left inside a patient were recorded. That is 0.02 percent.

While the percentage is remarkably small, that does not eliminate the danger of these surgical errors. Many times, it is necessary that the patient has more surgery to remove the item that had been left behind. Factors, such as the circumstances of the operating room and routines that might or might not have been followed, are keys in contributing to the mistake. But, the highest risk was to teens who had gynecological issues. They were four times as likely as other patients to face this problem.

It was shown that 22 percent of the items were left behind after gastrointestinal procedures. Sixteen percent were in cardio-thoracic procedures. Thirteen percent were in orthopedic surgeries. Parents who have a child undergoing surgery have enough to be concerned with without a mistake of this kind being made. If a child has unexpected complications, it is possible that this is the reason. Extra costs and hospital time can be damaging. It is within a family’s rights to seek compensation through litigation with assistance from a legal professional.

Source:, “Surgical Instruments Left in Children Rarely Fatal, But Dangerous,” Nov. 15, 2010


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