Sponges Are The Most Common Object Left In Surgical Patients Indicates Hospital Error Lawyer Michael Smith
Little Rock, AR (Law Firm Newswire) January 15, 2014 - A recent report indicates the unintended retention of foreign objects after surgery is a major issue.
“The report, dealing with sentinal events, which are defined as unanticipated events resulting in death, serious physical or psychological injury to a patient, and not related to the natural course of the patient's illness, indicates that foreign objects left in the body of a patient after surgery is on the rise. Issuing this alert is a rare event for The Joint Commission,” stated Michael Smith, an Arkansas hospital error attorney. The Joint Commission is the agency that accredits most hospitals in the U.S. for Medicare.
The report title was turned into the acronym URFO and carried the implication that the patient was the culprit when surgical instruments went missing. “Hardly the case,” points out Smith. “The patient is unconscious and they certainly don’t make it a point to hang on to retractors, scalpels or sponges.”
Leaving objects in a patient’s body cavity is the most common event The Joint Commission reports on. Not all hospitals have the dubious distinction of being reported for such negligence, but the report does indicate that there are some medical facilities in the country that are ten times more likely to leave unwanted objects in patients than not. “Do patients know which hospitals these are? Not always,” says Smith. “Unless something turns up in the news or another person they know had that happen to them, they would not be aware of the risks.”
Why are sponges the most common item left behind? They are left behind because it is hard to see them when they are blood soaked. They are the size of a typical kitchen scrubber and hundreds of them are used during the course of a surgery. While it may sound like a small item, it has the potential to cause excruciating pain and/or death. Consider the case of the woman who had a C-section who was in agonizing pain for weeks, until her bowels quit functioning. It took a 6-hour operation to fish out the pus-laden sponge.
Even though there is a sponge count at the end of a surgical procedure, The Joint Commission says there is usually a 10 to 15 percent error in counting. “Obviously, it is time for a new system,” added Smith. “In the meantime, if you have been in a situation such as this, let’s discuss your case. You have legal rights and you need to know what those are.”
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