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What are retained surgical items and how do they endanger lives?

If you have ever undergone a surgical procedure in Montana or anywhere else in the U.S., you know what it feels like to entrust your life to a team of medical professionals when entering the operating room. You may not, however, have expected to leave the OR with a surgical instrument or other foreign object left within your body. Surprisingly, incidents of retained surgical items occur more frequently than you might expect. Not only can these unexpected events cause serious damage to your body, but they can result in permanent disabilities and even death.

Researchers from John Hopkins University found that more than 4,000 surgical mistakes occur throughout the country on a yearly basis, according to Medical News Today. This does not include cases that have gone unreported or have not yet been found. A number of these OR errors involve retained items, which in many cases, include surgical sponges. As these absorbent towels soak up bodily fluids and blood, they can become hidden in your surgical site. Over time, sponges can adhere to your organs and cause severe infections.

In order to avoid these events from occurring, some surgical facilities have set procedures in place. This includes taking periodic breaks to account for all of the instruments and sponges used during the surgery. Despite these safety procedures, American Medical News reported that the count numbers do not match up approximately 13 percent of the time. This discrepancy may cause you to undergo future surgical procedures to remove the retained foreign object and cause you needless emotional pain and suffering.

This information is only intended to educate and should not be taken for legal advice.

 

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