Leeseberg & Valentine

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Your surgeon should prevent retained surgical object errors

When you undergo surgery at an Ohio hospital, especially if the procedure you're having necessitates general anesthesia, you are fully entrusting your safety and well-being to the surgical team assigned to your care. Before surgery, your doctor hopefully had at least one, if not several, discussions with you to explain the intended procedure and to talk about any and all risks known to be associated with it. Some risks may be more likely to occur than others.

However, some situations are basically entirely preventable, provided your surgeon and other team members act according to accepted safety standards and surgical protocol. Sadly, this isn't always the case, as made evident by thousands of injuries that occur every year that happened solely because of medical negligence. One of the most common surgical errors is retained foreign object injury. In simple terms: Your doctor leaves something inside your body by accident.

Ways to prevent retained foreign object injuries

If your surgeon inadvertently leaves an object inside your body during surgery, the results can be disastrous, in fact, life-threatening. If you survive a retained surgical object injury, you might suffer long-term physical and emotional damages. The following list includes simple means to help surgeons avoid such errors:

  • Proactively using a system that accounts for every surgical object is of highest priority when patient safety is a main goal.
  • In addition to physically accounting for all soft goods and sharp objects opened onto the sterile field during surgery, it is essential to double-check accountability for instruments of increased likelihood for being left inside a patient.
  • If there are discrepancies in an object count, the surgeon in charge must take steps to resolve the disparity before ending the surgery.
  • Your surgical team is obligated to locate a missing item.
  • Your surgical team should also keep a written account of its preventative measures to account for all surgical objects.

The most common types of objects left inside the bodies of patients include surgical sponges, needles, safety pins, scalpels, clamps and scissors. Retained surgical object injuries are typically not immediately apparent. You might not become aware of the problem for weeks, months or even years after your surgery.

Dangerous consequences

You are at risk for punctured organs, internal bleeding and life-threatening infections if a surgeon accidentally leaves an object inside your body. Once you figure out the cause of your abdominal pain, swelling or other ill-health symptoms, you may be shocked to learn that the situation was entirely preventable and occurred only because a doctor, nurse or other surgical team member was negligent. It is understandable that many Ohio medical patients seek legal accountability against those who failed to keep them safe during surgery.

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