• Surgical Sponges Left in Patients
  • May 28, 2012
  • Law Firm: Jonathan Scott Smith LLC - Columbia Office
  • Surgical Sponge left in Patients

    Each year, approximately 1,500 people inĀ  the United States have surgical sponges or other surgical objects unintentionally left inside them after surgery, according to published reports. This happens even though surgeons, operating room nurses, and other medical personnel are trained to avoid this avoidable and unacceptable medical mistake.

    How to Avoid Leaving Surgical Sponge in Patient

    The medical field has well-recognized procedures designed to avoid retained sponges and surgical instruments after surgery. This includes written protocols that require operating room nurses to take sponge and instrument counts before, and at the end, of surgery. In addition, a surgeon has the responsibility to check internally to ensure that no sponge or instrument is left behind. The surgeon cannot rely solely on the nurses' report that the final sponge and instrument count is correct.

    Instruments and Sponges left in the Body after Surgery

    Despite training and procedures, surgical sponges are left in the body. In fact, sponge manufacturers now make surgical sponges with radio frequency tags. At the end of the surgical procedure, a wand is passed over the patient's body, and any retained sponge will cause an audible and visual alarm.

    Legal Claims for Sponge left in Patient

    When a sponge is left in a patient after surgery, it often causes internal injuries, and sometimes even death. The victim of this medical mistake has a claim for medical malpractice, and may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering; medical expenses; lost income; and effects on activities.