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Why is Medicare refusing to pay to remove surgical sponges?

By on October 17, 2009


The reason is simple and logical: it is a never event.  There is no legitimate reason why a patient should leave the operating room with a surgical sponge, towel, or instrument left inside her body.  These events should never happen.  They only happen when someone is not being careful.  In most cases responsibility falls with the nurse for failing to properly account for each sponge placed in the patient's body.

It is a basic principle of surgical nursing that prior to surgery the nurse must have an accurate count of the number of sponges in the surgical field.  The nurse must keep an accurate count of the number of sponges placed in the patient's body during surgery and then count each sponge removed.  Before the surgeon sews up the patient, it is the nurse's job to tell the surgeon if a sponge remains in the patient's body.

The complications of leaving sponges in a patient are serious.  In most cases the patient will require further surgery with risks of anesthesia, infection, and even death.  Even in the best case scenario the patient must go through a painful recovery and miss time from work and family activities.

At Williamson & Lavecchia, L.C. we have represented numerous patients who were injured because foreign objects were carelessly left in their bodies.  Examples include hysterectomies, c-sections, and gall bladder removal.   For more information please read our retained object practice page.

Unfortunately Virginia has a short statute of limitations so if you or a loved one was injured because a surgical object was not properly removed, please call us at (804) 288-1661 or contact us by email to discuss your legal rights.

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