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Retained Surgical Items Cause Huge Problems for SC Patients

Retained Surgical Items Cause Huge Problems For SC Patients

Surgical never events occur all too often in the U.S., and involve surgical items left behind in operating sites by negligent medical professionals.

When patients enter the operating room to have a surgical procedure performed by a licensed professional, they may leave with more than they bargained for. In a surprising number of cases, surgical instruments have been found left within patients' operating sites. In fact, 4,000 preventable adverse events, or never-events, occur in the United States every year. This number may be under estimated, as some surgical errors go undetected or unreported. Never-events are completely preventable, and should never happen if proper protocol is followed. Medical professionals in South Carolina and across the country are human, however, and are prone to error. This may cause serious injury and death to thousands of people every year.

What Are Retained Surgical Items?

Surgical sponges are the most common retained item in never event cases. Surgeons use the gauzelike material to soak up excess blood and clean up the areas surrounding the operating site. Although the sponge material is ideal for absorbing blood and other bodily fluids, it is also good at sticking to and disappearing against organs. When left in the cavity over a period of time, the material can actually adhere to the organs, causing massive infection and even death in some cases. Additional items that have been found in operating sites include clamps, scalpels, forceps and other surgical instruments.

Ways of Preventing Surgical Never Events

In many operating rooms across the country, surgical technicians are responsible for keeping count of all the items and tools used during a procedure. The Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses encourages a count several times during the course of each surgery, including an initial count, before the closure of each cavity, before the entire wound closure and after each staff change.

These methods have proven to be ineffective for many reasons, according to the New York Times. Not only is the operating room a chaotic environment, making it hard for some nurses to keep an exact sponge count, but there are also staffing changes during the course of the procedure. While one nurse may have an accurate sponge count, another nurse may miscount the sponges. One simple error may result in a retained surgical item possible complications for the patient. In four out of every five cases of reported retained surgical sponges, the OR team had signed off that all sponges were accounted for.

There are new technologies in sponge tracking that have proven to reduce the occurrence of leaving instruments in patients. Yet, many South Carolina hospitals and institutions across the country are hesitant to fund the program, which utilizes scanning devices and barcodes. This leaves many surgical patients at the mercy of the medical team.

Legal Help May Be Necessary

If you are the victim of an adverse medical event, you may be qualified to receive compensation for your medical expenses, pain and emotional trauma. Medical professionals should be held responsible for their negligent actions. A personal injury attorney in South Carolina may help you explore your legal options and provide the assistance you need to organize a strong case.

Keywords: malpractice, surgical, error, injury