It’s an unfortunate fact that some patients are left injured because of items left behind inside them during surgery. Though there are systems in place in most surgical rooms to prevent these errors, many patients still have serious complications from items being left inside them.
It’s believed that around 1 in every 1,000 surgeries to 1 in every 18,000 surgeries result in retained objects being left in patients. While one of the most commonly lost items is the surgical sponge, almost any item can be left behind in a patient.
Why do objects get left behind inside patients?
Sometimes, it’s a matter of not seeing them. Take for example the surgical sponge. It’s white when it goes into the patient, but it quickly soaks up blood and blends in with the surrounding tissues. That’s why more hospitals are starting to use tracking systems to count and locate sponges as they’re used and removed.
The primary issue, though, is poor communication. When a surgical team isn’t communicating well, it’s much easier for mistakes to happen. For example, the surgeon may ask if all the tools have been removed, and a nurse may count and say yes. The next nurse who was supposed to double-check the count may not notice that one of the items is still missing, leading to the item being left behind.
Retained objects are dangerous to patients, often leading to damaging infections and pain. It is important that medical teams take their time to prevent these medical errors from happening. If not, an individual could be left in serious pain or with complications that would otherwise have been prevented.