• Feb
    Posted in:
    Posted by: Jarve Kaplan Granato Starr

    Surgical Retention, or How a Sponge Goes from Harmless to Harmful

    Surgical Malpractice

    When you go to the hospital for surgery, whether it is because of an emergency or for a planned, elective procedure, you probably don’t spend much time thinking about what kind of equipment will be used in the operating room or how many sponges the surgical staff is going to end up using. But keeping track of that count is serious business: in the United States there are roughly 11 surgeries performed per day when one of those tools ends up being left inside of a patient, and that leads to hundreds of thousands of dollars in cost for the hospital, and additional pain and risk, plus the need for an additional invasive procedure, for the patient. If you are the victim of a sponge or surgical tool that has been left behind, then you know all too well about surgical retention, and how a simple sponge can go from harmless to harmful.

    To the layman, the idea of leaving something behind inside a patient’s body is an inconceivable mistake. But medical professionals will tell you that it is all too common and can happen for many reasons. Surgical sponges are left behind more than any other item, and the reason for this is that once they’re used, the blood that they have soaked up provides the perfect camouflage. Though they may seem like an inconsequential item, the truth is that leaving a sponge behind is actually far more dangerous than leaving a scalpel or surgical tool behind. Though a stainless steel tool may sound worse, it has the advantage of not being rejected by the body’s immune system. By contrast, sponges evoke a response from the body, and require surgical retrieval.

    Experts say that when a patient is the victim of a retained surgical instrument, it ends up costing the hospital approximately $600,000. This total includes the cost of corrective surgery, as well as the costs of defending against medical malpractice lawsuits and making legal amends.

    To combat this issue, hospitals are turning to innovative technologies that embed bar codes directly onto the items that are used during surgical procedures. Though this may add to the cost of these items, the increase is negligible when compared to the costs of litigation – and the pain and risk that a patient has to endure when a retrieval procedure has to be endured.

    The barcode embedding technology has proven to be extremely effective for those facilities that have purchased it. By contrast, hospitals that rely on counting and human attention to surgical inventories are frequently victims of their own errors, and so are their patients. If you or someone you love has had to endure additional surgeries as a result of a retained surgical instrument, you need experienced legal representation. The attorneys at Jarve, Kaplan, Granato & Starr, LLC have the knowledge that you need to get the justice you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation regarding your case.

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