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Tampa Medical Malpractice Attorneys > Blog > Medical Malpractice > Objects Left in the Body After Surgery

Objects Left in the Body After Surgery


Undergoing surgery can be a stressful situation. You may be worried about the outcome, and for good reason. A lot can happen during and after a surgery. Many people end up feeling worse than they did before the surgery. That’s because their doctor might have left an object inside their body.

This may seem like a far-fetched situation, but it happens a lot. In one case, a woman had two surgical sponges inside her abdomen for at least six years. They became attached to the patient’s colon as well as the omentum, which is a fold of tissue that connects the stomach with other abdominal structures. The woman finally saw a doctor after dealing with bloating for three years. After the sponges were removed, her symptoms were resolved.

This is not a rare event. In the United States, this type of medical malpractice happens often. There are roughly 4,500 to 6,000 cases each year of objects being left behind in patients’ bodies. Approximately 70% of the items left in patients’ bodies are sponges, with the other 30% being surgical instruments such as clamps and retractors. Instruments are most often left behind in the abdomen, pelvis, or retroperitoneum (the anatomical space located behind the abdominal cavity).

Given that a surgeon could use more than 250 different surgical tools during a single operation, it seems more likely that something would get left behind. Some of the most common objects left inside patients’ bodies include sponges, scalpels, scissors, clamps, forceps, scopes, needles, tubes, surgical masks, gloves, and measuring devices. Sponges are especially hard to keep track of because as many as 100 of them may be used to soak up blood during surgery. Once they are used, they tend to blend in with the patient’s organs.

These retained surgical items can cause significant harm. Pain, bloating, and general discomfort are the most common complications. However, in some cases, the patient may develop an infection, which can lead to sepsis or even death. In one case, a small sponge was left inside a patient’s brain. The patient developed an infection and ultimately died.

What Causes Surgeons to Leave Behind Objects?

Human error is the number one reason surgical instruments are left behind. The surgical team may come up with incorrect counts due to fatigue or improper management systems.

Distractions during surgery can also create errors. Having side conversations, using a phone, or playing music can distract surgeons. Retained surgical items are also more common after an emergency surgery or an unplanned change. In high-stress situations like these, there is a 900% increase in risk.

Contact Us Today 

Surgeries do not always go as planned. A patient may get an object left inside their body, causing infections, ruptured organs and other harm.

If you have been injured due to a doctor’s negligence, make sure you understand your legal rights. See how the Tampa medical malpractice lawyers at Greco & Wozniak P.A. can assist you with your case. Fill out the online form or call (813) 223-7849 to schedule a consultation.



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