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800 surgical tools left in patients since 2005

Illinois residents who seek medical care may be concerned to hear that there have been nearly 800 instances of surgical implements being left in patients since 2005. This information comes from the The Joint Commission, a nonprofit organization that seeks to ensure that hospitals employ and enforce practices that prevent these surgical errors from occurring. According to a spokesperson for the group, this issue is well-known and easily avoidable.

The current practice for preventing items from being left in patients involves counting all tools and performing cavity sweeps to ensure nothing is left behind. However, this process is subject to human error and 80 percent of the time when sponges are left in a patient, the staff believed they had accounted for everything. The Joint Commission stated that it is essential that a far more aggressive policy be put in place. They suggested that a nurse and tech count all items and then have this verified by a surgeon, and counts should be done before the procedure, before the patient is stitched up and at the end of the procedure.

Mistakes that lead to items being left in patients occur most frequently when a emergency surgery is required or when the type of procedure changed without warning. When a patient has a surgical implement left inside of them, they may experience physical harm and even death.

Surgical errors of any kind can prevent patients from recovering as rapidly as possible or prevent it entirely. A lawyer could explain their rights and let them know their options for legal recourse if someone has been harmed due to the negligence of a hospital or doctor.

Source: CBS News, "Nearly 800 surgical tools left in patients since 2005: Report", Ryan Jaslow, October 18, 2013

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