A research study, conducted by Johns Hopkins Hospital, shows that medical errors rank third as one of the leading causes of patient deaths in the United States. It's estimated that medical errors result in as many as 250,000 patients losing their lives each year.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, it's believed that doctors leaving foreign objects in abdominal surgery patients occurs as often as once out of every 1,000 to 1,500 procedures. Some of those objects most often left behind include scissors, sponges, clamps, retractors and needles.
These occurrences happen even though surgical medical staff are generally taught to do a count of all tools brought into the operating room at least three times before closing a patient up.
Researchers have found that many of these instances in which surgical tools are left behind happen when doctors are forced to perform emergency procedures. It's believed that the sense of urgency that doctors feel in situations like this cause them to be negligent.
It's often not until a patient's health begins to deteriorate that doctors realize what may have occurred. When all other possible diagnoses are ruled out, a doctor may order an X-ray only to find a metal object left behind. Oftentimes, these patients end up undergoing an additional surgery to remove these objects.
Of those who survive that secondary procedure, 20 percent are left with a permanent injury in the process. One out of every 20 patients who undergoes a similar kind of procedure dies as a result of it.
While an X-ray can detect metal, there's no real good tool to help identify sponges, although they account for at least two-thirds of all objects left behind. While there are sponges on the market that offer an electronic tracking option, researchers have found that as few as 15 percent of all hospitals use those.
Additionally, although mandatory reporting of these cases is required under federal law, the National Center for Biotechnology Information concedes that many go unreported still.
If your health declined or you have a loved one who died after developing an infection from an object left in him or her during an operation, then you may benefit from discussing your case with a Tucson surgical errors doctor. In doing so, he or she can advise you of your right to file a medical malpractice claim.
Source: Huffington Post, "Here are some scary things that can happen to you in a hospital," Ann Brenoff, accessed Nov. 03, 2017