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When Surgeons Leave Behind Dangerous and Deadly Items

SurgeryEvery surgery has its risks, but there is one that patients do not usually consider: a surgeon, leaving behind an instrument, gloves, gauze sponges, or other surgical item. The result is often devastating, sometimes resulting in an illness or infection. Others suffer from long-term or permanent disability. In extreme cases, retained surgical items may even result in wrongful death. Know the risks, and what recourse you and your loved ones have, should it ever happen to you.

Thousands of Incidents per Year

According to research studies and government data, between 4,500 and 6,000 patients have an item left behind after surgery each year. Gauze sponges, which are used to soak up blood during surgery, are the most common items left behind (about 70 percent of all cases), but they are not the only items left inside of patients. About 10 percent of all items left behind are needles. Another five percent are surgical instruments (estimates suggest as many as 800 surgical tools have been left inside of patients since 2005). Even more concerning is that most incidents are not caught until the patient becomes extremely ill. In around one to two percent of those cases, that illness eventually leads to fatality.

Patient Death and Illness

Recently, a woman went in for a fairly routine gynecological procedure. In the days following surgery, she began to feel sick. Doctors gave her antibiotics, thinking she had an infection, but once she completed the round of medication, the pain came back. They had left the tip of an instrument inside of her. Thankfully, they were able to remove it and it does not appear that she will have any long-term effects, but there are many others who did not fare as well.

One man had several sponges left behind after a surgery for an intestinal disorder. For weeks, he suffered from stomach pain and vomiting. He thought he had an intestinal bug. Then his family came to visit and noticed just how much the man had wasted away. By this time, the sponges had adhered to and eaten away at his intestines. Portions had to be removed and he was ultimately left with a colostomy bag. His body is severely scarred, and he still experiences a great deal of pain.

Others have lost their lives because of left behind instruments, gauze, and other surgical items. Sepsis and other severe infections are the most common causes of death, but even before that, the patient may suffer from months or even years of pain, illness, and confusion. Their health simply wastes away, and no one can tell them why. Their family suffers as well, watching their loved one grow sicker by the day, and eventually left to grieve their death.

Our San Jose Medical Malpractice Attorneys Will Fight for You

If you or a loved one has suffered an illness, injury, or wrongful death because of a retained surgical item, you may be owed compensation. Ensure you have an experienced San Jose medical malpractice attorney on your side. Schedule a free initial consultation with Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. and ask how we can help with your case. Call us at (408) 289-1417 in San Jose, or toll free at 866-433-6797.

Client Reviews
My experience with Attorney Brad Corsiglia during my recent medical malpractice case was nothing short of amazing given the very stressful circumstances. I was fortunate to find Brad highly recommended from a mutual contact and from the very beginning of the process, Brad was truly engaged and knowledgeable in understanding my case and providing input on what avenues were available to me. Michelle M.