Leeseberg & Valentine

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The terrible 'never event' mistake that surgeons still make

It is amazing to think that surgical tools as small as screws and sponges can harm the human body so much when surgeons accidently leave them behind after an operation. This type of medical malpractice is considered so preventable that experts call it a "never event," or an error doctors should never make.

Still, surgical teams do sometimes commit this mistake, though it is thankfully rare. Healthcare Finance reports that patients wake up with surgical instruments inside them just once every 5,500 procedures. But these errors are nevertheless a huge drain on the healthcare system, costing about $2.4 billion per year in corrective surgeries and legal costs.

Of course, the loss of time and money is nothing compared to the needless pain and injury patients suffer when their surgeon makes a mistake. The vast majority of forgotten tools are surgical sponges. It's a terrible irony that sponges are particularly dangerous inside the body. Because they are not biocompatible, the body tries hard to expel them, often leading to death or permanent injury.

Surgical teams have various methods of keeping track of all the tools they use during an operation, but lack of organization or communication can lead to confusion. Technology, like barcode systems, can help make up for human error.

Nevertheless, surgical teams regularly leave instruments behind. Patients, not doctors, feel the effects of surgical errors, but they should not have to pay the financial costs of fixing them. If this has happened to you, you need to know that your right to sue can expire if too much time has passed since the operation. Please contact a personal injury lawyer to learn more about your rights.

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