Report: Doctors have left surgical tools in nearly 800 patients since 2005

Since 2005, nearly 800 people have had foreign objects left inside of them following a surgical procedure, according to a recently issued report from The Joint Commission, an organization that monitors health care safety issues. In fact, for many of the patients involved, the mistakes weren't even discovered until the patients ultimately complained of pain or discomfort following the surgery.

Sadly, surgical errors such as these are far more common than many patients would like to believe. Specifically, the recent study found that from 2005 to 2012 there were 772 occurrences of foreign objects, such as surgical tools or sponges, being left behind in patients — of which 16 incidents led to the deaths of the patients. The report also discovered that in circumstances in which the surgical procedure was performed in an emergency situation, the risk of leaving a foreign object inside the patient was nine times higher.

According to the researchers, the most common causes of these unfortunate events were the failure of hospital staff to adhere to existing procedures, lack of proper procedures or policies, breakdown in communications with other doctors, hierarchy issues within the medical facility and poor education in general.

Researchers involved in the report are now calling on hospitals to implement a more standardized system for ensuring all surgical tools are accounted for following a procedure — and not left in the patient. In particular, researchers recommend that at least two people on the surgical team count and verify all equipment at three different stages of a surgical procedure: once before the surgery; once before the cavity is closed; and once when the surgery ends. Researchers note that similar protocols at one children's hospital resulted in a 50 percent drop in these types of errors in a single year.

Other Forms of Hospital Negligence

Unfortunately, leaving sponges in patients during surgery is not the only form of hospital negligence that the public needs to know about. For instance, errors during surgery can lead to several forms of injuries, including:

  • Damage to other organs
  • Nerve damage
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Operations of the wrong part of the body

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to surgical errors or hospital negligence, it is important to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney. A skilled attorney can assist in investigating the causes of your injury and help determine what your rights and options may be given your particular circumstances.