Instruments Left in the Body

A surgical instrument left behind in a patient’s body is one of several types of medical harm that can occur in any given operation. Our research shows us that while it’s one of the least common types of problems that occur in the operating room, it still happens too often. Each year, roughly 1,500 surgical instruments are left behind in patients’ bodies. When simple, standard procedures are not followed, the result can be as serious as personal injury or wrongful death.

Unfortunately, because surgeons are not required to report errors to The Joint Commission, rules as simple as marking the location of the operation are often ignored by doctors. They either view such suggestions as “insulting” or they cannot justify wasting time to take the extra precaution. However, when a surgical instrument is left behind in a patient’s body, it’s a clear sign of medical malpractice that can’t be ignored.

What surgical instruments are often left behind in a patient’s body

A negligent surgeon can leave just about any tool behind. Some of the more common implements include:

• Gauze pads
• Tweezers
• Forceps
• Clamps
• Retractors
• Sponges
• Suction tips and tubes
• Needles
• Mechanical devices or laser guides

Why are surgical instruments left behind?

The main cause is simply human error. We all make mistakes, surgeons included. Unfortunately, when a surgeon makes a mistake, it could threaten a patient’s life. Another cause is negligence. A surgeon could be distracted or rushed, and both could cause a problem.

What are the consequences of surgical instruments left behind in a patient?

While medical mistakes are never intentional, they can have serious consequences, including:

• Paralysis
• Bowel injures
• Birth injures
• Infection
• Permanent scarring
• Permanent disability
• Deformation and disfigurement
• Loss of sensation
• Brain damage
• Death

Was a surgical instrument left behind during surgery?

Most times, surgical errors and complications are not admitted by surgeons or described in medical records. As you probably suspect, surgeons rarely, if ever, admit they made a medical mistake or surgical error during an operation. However, when a surgical instrument is left behind, that’s not something surgeons can hide. Because of the medical culture, nurses and other personnel in the operating room will also rarely report that a doctor made a medical mistake or surgical error during a patient’s surgery. Although all surgeons are required by law to dictate a detailed medical report describing the surgery that was performed, most times medical mistakes or surgical errors are not described in the report. Instead, these reports will detail a flawless surgery without surgical errors or medical mistakes even if there was a medical complication and a bad outcome. Therefore, there will rarely be any written record of whether an error was made.

Can I trust my New Jersey Medical malpractice attorney to prove that a surgical error or medical mistake occurred during my surgery?

After such an ordeal, it is natural to wonder, “Do I have a case?”, “Was my doctor negligent?” or “What are my rights?” We are here to answer those important questions.

Our firm has extensive experience in evaluating cases of surgical instruments left behind in the New Jersey and Philadelphia regional area. This experience has directly resulted in successful results for our clients. We have a unique team of medical and legal professionals that work together to prepare your case. Our medical expertise puts our clients at an advantage when taking on hospitals and medical facilities with significant resources. Our New Jersey civil trial attorneys break down the law aspects of your case.

Unlike most firms, you will have direct access to a medical professional who will answer your questions about surgical instruments being left behind. These professionals will provide helpful resources while you may still be recovering from a surgical injury. Furthermore, you will have the benefit of working with experienced and distinguished certified New Jersey civil trial attorneys who deal specifically in the area of medical malpractice & negligence. This is important because medical malpractice lawsuits can be very complicated and require knowledge of medical and scientific concepts in addition to having exceptional trial skills.

Where can I find more information?

“Risk Factor for Retained Instruments and Sponges After Surgery” – A highly recommended and very informative case study on surgical instruments left behind during surgery tells us about factors such as emergency surgery and obesity that increase that risk.

“When Surgical Instruments are Left Behind– In Patients” – Read the stories and case studies of local Philadelphia, Southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey residents who have been affected by surgical instruments left in their body after routine surgeries.

“Medical Errors? Patients May be the Last to Know” – Do you believe your doctor would tell you if a medical error happened during surgery? Read the article to find the answer.

Share your medical error story – Read the story of two New Jersey women who need your help to stop surgical errors and medical malpractice on a statewide and national level.

Do you have more questions?

We’d be happy to answer them. At the Mininno Law Office, you can talk to experienced civil trial attorneys who can answer your questions. We’d be happy to offer any help you need. Contact the Mininno Law Office by filling out the free case evaluation on the left, call (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey or call (215) 567-2380 in Pennsylvania.

We look forward to hearing from you.

(c) Copyright 2011 Mininno Law Office