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Connecticut Personal Injury Blog

Foreign Objects Left in the Body During Surgery

Patients are being harmed by foreign objects left in their bodies after medical procedures in record numbers, doubling from 12 to 25 in one year in Connecticut.  Sponges, drain tips and clamps were among the objects most commonly left in patients after surgery.  There are a number of safeguards hospitals can employ to prevent retained foreign objects after surgery.  However, those safeguards sometimes fail due to human error or unforeseen circumstances related to the surgery. Discovering that a foreign object was unintentionally left in the body after surgery  is among the most potentially devastating and preventable forms of surgical medical malpractice.  This type of mistake should never happen.  Unfortunately, Johns Hopkins patient safety researchers estimate that a surgeon in the United States leaves a foreign object such as a sponge or a towel inside a patient’s body after an operation 39 times a week. Leaving a retained object in a patient after surgery is typically a clear cut case of negligence in Connecticut.  As a result, patients who are seriously injured could be entitled to compensation for the damages they have suffered.  Consulting with an experienced Connecticut medical malpractice attorney, once the patient has been medically stabilized, should be the next step in order to learn what legal options could be available. Babcock What are some types of objects commonly left inside the body after surgery?   Foreign objects can be left inside a patient during the most ordinary procedures. These objects include:   

  • gauze;
  • clamps;
  • drain tips;
  • needles;
  • sponges;
  • guide wires;
  • scalpels;
  • surgical masks; and
  • towels.
How do you know if a foreign object was left in the body after surgery? Sponges are among the most common objects left inside the body.  This is likely due to the fact that dozens of sponges are used during a procedure and some surgical teams struggle to keep track of all the sponges that are used.  A second reason that sponges may be left inside the body is because they tend to blend in with the patient’s tissues, particularly when there is significant bleeding. But no matter the reasoning, there may not be a valid excuse to leave a sponge or any other object inside of a patient, and this may warrant pursuing a surgical medical malpractice case with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. After surgery, it can sometimes be a challenge to differentiate between normal pain and abnormal complications or discomfort.  Frequently, pain will persist long after the patient should have started to feel better.  Here are some general signs and symptoms to consider:
  • significant pain;
  • fever;
  • swelling and/or
  • blood clot.
What should you do if you believe that you or a loved one is a victim of surgical medical malpractice? If you are a loved one believe that a patient might have been the victim of surgical medical malpractice, there are steps that can be taken to verify this.  One is to seek a second opinion from a practitioner in the same specialty.  This is especially important to reduce the risk of further injury.  Another step is to request an X-ray, as foreign objects frequently are discovered through imaging. Also, the patient should consider keeping journal of symptoms that develop after surgery.  Doing so can help in distinguishing between what is normal and expected and what might not be. The CT Injury Law Center can assist you in each and every one of these steps.   We can help collect necessary evidence, like medical records and can talk to medical experts who may provide testimony in the case.   When should I contact a Connecticut medical malpractice attorney? Sometimes objects left inside patients can cause serious health problems that could even result in death.  Having to undergo a second surgery to remove the object might compound damages.  Although it is rare for death to occur from retained foreign objects, it may still be negligence to leave a foreign object inside a patient after surgery.  Generally, a good time to seek legal counsel with a local medical malpractice attorney is when there is evidence that a surgical error may have occurred. This is especially true if the foreign objected caused further injury, such as requiring additional surgery or developing a life-threatening infection. Should you file a lawsuit?  Talk to an experienced attorney.  Remember, if you have a claim, there is a two-year statute of limitations clock running, after which you might not have the right to file a lawsuit.  Contact us or call us at 866-217-8995 to arrange a free, confidential consultation. You can get answers, find out what happened, and help prevent similar needless injuries from happening to other people, too.  

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