How often does a surgeon leave in an object in the patient?

According to a relatively recent report on the issue, it is more likely than one might think for a surgeon to leave a piece of surgical equipment, like a sponge, in a patient’s body following an operation.

A Maryland resident might think of these types of surgical errors as events that are easy to prevent and should really never happen if medical professionals are being careful. However, between 2005 and 2013, almost 800 people had foreign objects left in them after an operation of some sort.

Although in some cases these objects were spotted in routine follow ups, in other cases, patients started experiencing pain and other symptoms from having a foreign object in their bodies. Of the victims, 16 people even died because of the surgeon’s serious mistake.

Even for survivors, the consequence of having a foreign object left in one’s body after a surgery can be severe, leading to emotional distress and significant health consequences. Oftentimes, victims also had to undergo further procedures and lengthier stays in the hospital. Hospitals, as well, face consequences in the form of medical malpractice payouts.

Hospitals and doctors have developed new techniques to avoid these sorts of errors. For example, in lieu of just having one person count the surgical equipment, several members of the surgical team double check the equipment count, which is approved by the lead surgeon herself.

Still, though, Maryland residents who are going under the surgical knife should be aware of the possibility that a surgical team could leave an object in their bodies by a careless mistake. Those Marylanders who are victims of this type of medical malpractice may be able to get compensation for their losses.