You have a “routine” surgery and, weeks later, find yourself with an unexpected discomfort around the surgical site. As weeks go on, it becomes so painful that you ask your doctor about it. After an X-ray, you find out that the surgeon left one of their tools inside your body during the operation. While this situation is terrifying and confusing, it’s also important to understand how it happens and how often it happens.
How It Happens
Doctors leaving tools in a patient’s body are called “foreign object” malpractice claims. Most often, the tool left behind is a sponge, but other objects include forceps, clamps, scissors, needle tips, and even scalpel blades.
These errors are a consequence of negligence in the operating room. Doctors and their staff should always account for all of their equipment before ending the surgery. Leaving tools behind (especially sharp objects), is not just negligent, it is potentially life-threatening.
Worst of all, many people don’t realize they’ve been impacted by this kind of malpractice until their lives are in danger. Additionally, once the problem is identified a second surgery is required to remove the object, which comes with its own risk of both surgical and post-operative complications.
How Often It Happens
Foreign object errors happen far more often than they should, especially since these are considered “never events,” those that have such a high degree of negligence they should never be allowed to happen.
Yet there are roughly 1,500 foreign object malpractice claims per year in the U.S. (approximately 1-in-5,000 surgeries). But these numbers only represent people who are aware of the issue. Thousands of others may be going about their lives unaware of what has happened to them until the moment tragedy strikes and their health is in danger.
When these errors happen, it’s crucial that victims seek justice from all parties involved. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can prepare your case on your behalf and handle the intense negotiating required to hold the doctor accountable and recover fair compensation.
If you’d like an experienced Florida personal injury attorney from Gunn Law Group P.A. to evaluate your case, call (813) 993-1448 or send us an email.