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Protecting Accident Victims Throughout Western Pennsylvania.

Doctors may leave tools behind after surgery

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2022 | Malpractice

Doctors use several different tools during a surgical procedure. If they lose track of an item, they may unintentionally leave it inside the patient. This situation can cause great harm.

According to the American College of Surgeons, retained surgical items are more common than people may realize. Surgeons leave a tool inside a patient in one out of 5,500 surgical procedures. Retained objects could consist of several different items. Guidewires and surgical sponges are some of the most common tools. However, doctors could also forget to remove instruments such as surgical scissors, as well as suture needles. They may also leave catheters in a patient.

How do retained items affect patients?

Some people begin to experience side effects soon after the procedure. They usually have to stay in the hospital for a longer period of time as medical staff performs tests to understand the situation. They typically require another procedure to remove the retained item.

If doctors left a sharp item behind, this object may cause harm to internal organs. The damage could be severe if medical professionals do not find and remove the tool immediately. In some situations, retained items could cause the death of a patient.

Can medical staff prevent retained items?

There are several steps people can take to make sure that they remove all surgical items from a patient’s body. The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Advisory says that surgical staff should count the number of items they will use during a procedure. This allows them to do another count before they finish to ensure that they have everything. Additionally, the entire surgical team should take responsibility for removing items. If a nurse sees that the surgeon has not removed a tool, he or she should call attention to this.

Proper prevention procedures can help ensure that leaving a tool inside a patient is an event that never happens.