What Is the Most Commonly Retained Surgical Instrument?
If you’ve been injured because of surgical errors, you want answers and to know that you’re going to be taken care of. Patients should be concerned about errors; they happen more often than they should, and even the medical community admits to this. Maybe most shocking is the fact that items left behind during surgery should be tracked and identified, but instead, they’re left inside patients. Things like sponges and clamps are sometimes left behind, leading to complications down the line for patients.
Retained surgical instruments take place around once every 5,500 surgeries. Around 70 percent of those cases are a result of sponges being left behind in patients. Why does this happen? Sponges themselves are easy to lose in a surgical cavity; they become saturated and blend in. Gauze also conforms to the body’s shape, making it even harder to identify.
So, how can hospitals help? New item count methods, for one. New bar code systems are being used to identify sponges as they are placed inside the body and as they are removed, so surgeons and their surgical nurses can identify when one has gone missing. Normally, there are three counts. The first is a base count identifying everything you use. The second counts anything you added to the surgery. The third counts everything that has been recovered. Poor communication or even a patient’s weight can make that final count incorrect, and that’s where the concern lies.
Surgical injuries are preventable, and no one should have to consider a second surgery to correct an error like leaving a sponge behind. If you’ve been put in this position, you might be able to file a medical malpractice claim.