Surgical Sponge Left in Patient

By on October 28, 2011

Most abdominal and pelvic surgeries involve the use of numerous surgical sponges.  The circulating nurse is responsible for keeping an accurate count of the sponges throughout the surgery.  She should have a count of all sponges in the surgical field prior to surgery, all sponges put in the body, and she should maintain a count of all sponges removed from the body during surgery.  It is the circulating nurse's obligation to notify the surgeon if there are any sponges that are unaccounted for.

Unfortunately, all too often the counts are not performed accurately.  In abdominal and pelvic surgeries, the surgeon may not notice that a sponge was left in the body.  An inaccurate count by the circulating nurse can lead to sponge being left in the patient.  It usually become evident within a couple days as the patient has unrelenting pain at the surgical site.  In some cases the surgical incision will continue draining which is a sign of an infection.  Inevitably the patient will require further surgery with a lengthy hospitalization, increased medical bills, lost time from work and family, and significant pain recovering from an unnecessary surgery.  That is the best case scenario, because the patient is at risk for all the complications that come with surgery including further infection and reactions to anesthesia.

In our legal experience, these cases are inexcusable.  They are usually due to nothing more than carelessness.  If you or a loved one has been injured due to surgical malpractice, please contact us for a free legal consultation.

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