Leeseberg & Valentine

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Did you leave the operating room with more than just stitches?

The ordeal of having surgery is a big concern on its own. One thing you shouldn't have to worry about is leaving the operating room with more than just the stitches you expected; yet, for many Ohio patients every year, this is exactly what happens. A number of studies show that surgeons across the nation leave up to 6,000 surgical implements inside patients' bodies on an annual basis.

This easily preventable mistake has the potential to result not just in serious consequences to patients' health, but death. So how and why do doctors keep leaving foreign objects inside patients' bodies, and what does this mean for you?

Foreign objects

There are a number of reasons health care providers may accidentally leave instruments and surgical objects inside your body after an operation, and the number one reason is human error. Surgical nurses and technicians are generally in charge of keeping count of every object used during surgery, but since operations can involve over 250 different tools over the course of each procedure, they may lose track. Unfortunately, their mistakes can mean that you're left with one of the following inside your body:

  • scalpels
  • needles
  • scissors
  • sponges
  • guide wires
  • towels
  • forceps
  • clamps
  • tweezers
  • scopes
  • surgical masks
  • surgical gloves
  • measuring devices
  • drain tips
  • tubes

There are a few factors that may increase the likelihood of a surgeon leaving an object inside your body after your procedure. For example, operations that involve higher amounts of blood loss carry a higher risk since doctors use sponges to soak up the blood. Unfortunately, these sponges have the tendency of blending in with surrounding tissues and organs and escaping notice. Other minor mistakes can increase the risk as well, but the fact is that a surgeon's or nurse's "little mistake" can have big consequences for your recovery.

Catastrophic consequences

If you're lucky, the results of your surgeon's error won't permanently damage you before another health care provider recognizes the issue in time to prevent serious injury or worse, including:

  • infection
  • severe pain
  • problems with your digestive system
  • fever
  • swelling
  • internal bleeding
  • damage to internal organs
  • obstructions
  • loss of part of an internal organ
  • prolonged hospital stays
  • death

Even in a best-case scenario when you're lucky enough for doctors to realize the error and attempt to fix it, the result will likely involve yet more painful, costly and time-consuming surgical procedures to remove the object from your body and repair any additional damages.

Resources

If, following your surgery, you discover that you have been a victim of this type of surgical error, you don't have to suffer in silence. Your first step, of course, will be to seek medical attention in an effort to remedy your situation and get you on the road to recovery. Afterwards, you may wish to explore your options with an experienced professional in the Columbus area who has extensive experience handling medical malpractice cases.

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