It’s your worst nightmare to discover that your surgeon left a tool or surgical sponge inside you after closing you up at the end of your surgery. You’ve probably heard horror stories and given it a thought or two before your own surgery, but everything changes when it happens to you.
Leaving a surgical sponge or other foreign material inside you after surgery should never happen. Surgeons and staff follow strict protocol and count and recount tools and material before and at the end of surgery. Negligence on behalf of one of these medical personnel can be life-changing for you. So, how do you respond? What do you do next?
How Bad Can It Really Be?
If you don’t know much about medical malpractice cases like this, you may be wondering what harm a simple surgical sponge can do when left behind. While symptoms may not be felt until months or even years later, the repercussions can be devastating.
While it seems this is just a fluke accident, the American Society of Anesthesiologists reports about 4500-6,000 cases per year where either surgical sponges or other surgical tools are left behind after surgery. This means that these kinds of medical errors occur about a dozen times every day, just in the United States. And other reports suggest these kinds of mistakes happen 1-2 times a year in each hospital. So it seems like your odds are ever-increasing!
What Are the Possible Effects of Surgical Tools Remaining Inside You?
Patients have experienced all kinds of symptoms from surgical tools and sponges being left inside them. First, the unexplainable yet excruciating pain is sure to appear, often the first red flag that someone isn’t right. Then, various doctor’s visits, diagnostic testing, and additional surgeries are required to fix the problem once it’s found.
This isn’t even beginning to address the infections, possible obstructions and perforations into different areas and organs of the body, digestive issues, and more. Some patients even pay the ultimate cost by losing their lives from what could have been a totally unavoidable mistake.
As you can see, the repercussions of medical instruments staying behind are costly in the way of pain and suffering but also time and money.
Why Are Surgical Sponges Being Left Behind?
It may seem absurd to think your surgeon or other medical staff could possibly leave something inside you after surgery. The truth is, it’s easier than you think, and studies have shown that it happens even more often in cases of an emergency or needing to redirect elsewhere during surgery. Patients with a higher BMI also have an increased risk.
Negligence undoubtedly plays a role in these mistakes, as well as things like staff being rushed to complete their tasks, staffing shortages, tired surgeons and medical staff, and more. However, the unfortunate part of it all is that a simple mistake leads to years of pain and suffering for their patient and possibly even life-altering or life-threatening circumstances.
What Interventions Are Available to Prevent These Errors?
While manually counting each surgical sponge and instrument is the traditional way of keeping track of tools and other materials used in surgery, it can often be tough to decipher what is what after they have been used and soaked through. Unfortunately, this is only one of the many ways surgical material gets unaccounted for and left behind.
There have been technological advances to help prevent such errors, though. For example, sponges with barcodes are scanned before and after a procedure to ensure they are all accounted for. The problem is that these new and improved inventions are expensive, so hospitals and surgery centers are reluctant to purchase such technology. Therefore, these facilities and surgeons continue to depend on x-rays or the standard manual counting method to do the job. Unfortunately, it’s not working as well as we hoped.
What Is Your Next Step?
You trust your surgeon and others caring for you. In fact, you quite literally put your life in their hands. When these people you so fully trusted are negligent in providing the standard of care you depended on, it’s disappointing and threatening to your well-being and overall health.
Making sure these medical professionals are held responsible for their negligence is necessary to recover damages and compensation that you need to pay your medical bills and work to heal from the pain and suffering you’ve endured.
Even if you don’t believe that your surgeon had ill intent, they or one of the medical staff acted negligently, and you should not be the one to suffer or pay for it.
After receiving the medical care that you need to recover appropriately, contacting a medical malpractice lawyer should be your next step. Your lawyer can gather medical records, follow up on evidence to build your case, and give you additional advice for moving forward. Your lawyer will help you succeed in recovering the compensation you need in your pursuit. You’ll find pretty immediately that your legal team will make the process of a lawsuit as easy as possible for you. After all, taking the stress of a legal case from you is their job.
Recover the Compensation You Deserve
If you are a victim of negligence after surgery and have had a surgical sponge or other surgical tool left behind, the experienced medical malpractice team at Wormington & Bollinger can help. We have the knowledge and skills to take you through your medical malpractice lawsuit, bringing you out the other side with the compensation you deserve for medical expenses, missed wages, and most importantly, the pain and suffering you have and may still be experiencing.
To learn more about how the legal team at Wormington & Bollinger can help in your medical malpractice case after a surgical sponge has been left behind, contact us today. We look forward to giving you the peace of mind that a great legal team is taking care of you.