A California woman has filed a medical malpractice case in California in which she alleges that surgical forceps were left in her abdomen during an exploratory laparotomy in April 2017, resulting in the need to have further surgery to remove the 8-inch long surgical instrument and 18 inches of her small intestine that had looped around the forceps.
The California medical malpractice lawsuit was filed by the 52-year-old woman against the hospital where the surgery to remove a benign abdominal tumor was performed and the surgeon who performed the surgery. The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiff was discharged from the defendant hospital on April 19, 2017 following her surgery. Then, on May 1, 2017, she went to another hospital’s emergency room with complaints of severe pain in her abdomen, back, and kidney. Medical testing discovered the surgical instrument that was left in her abdomen during the earlier surgery.
The California retained object medical malpractice lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for the plaintiff’s medical expenses and related incidental expenses both in the past and in the future, her pain and suffering, her lost earnings both in the past and in the future, and compensation for her husband’s loss of consortium claim.
How Often Are Objects Unintentionally Left In Surgical Patients?
On October 17, 2013, The Joint Commission, an independent, not-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies nearly 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, issued its “Sentinel Event Alert Issue 51: Preventing unintended retained foreign objects” in which it stated:
“The unintended retention of foreign objects (URFOs) – also called retained surgical items (RSIs) – after invasive procedures can cause death, and surviving patients may sustain both physical and emotional harm, depending on the type of object retained and the length of time it is retained. There may be an extended time frame between occurrence and detection of an URFO. Retained foreign objects are most commonly detected immediately post-procedure; by X-ray; during routine follow-up visits; or from the patient’s report of pain or discomfort. URFOs refer to any item or foreign object related to any operative or invasive procedure that is left inside a patient.
Objects most commonly left behind after a procedure are:
• Soft goods, such as sponges and towels
• Small miscellaneous items, including unretrieved device components or fragments (such as broken parts of instruments), stapler components, parts of laparoscopic trocars, guidewires, catheters, and pieces of drains
• Needles and other sharps
• Instruments, most commonly malleable retractors.”
“The Joint Commission reported that from 2005 to 2012, 772 incidents of URFOs were reported to The Joint Commission’s Sentinel Event database. Sixteen deaths resulted from these incidents. About 95 percent of these incidents resulted in additional care and/or an extended hospital stay. In hospital settings, these incidents occurred in operating rooms, labor and delivery areas, as well as ambulatory surgery centers and other areas where invasive procedures are performed (e.g., cath lab, GI lab, interventional radiology, emergency department).
According to the sentinel event data, the most common root causes of URFOs reported to The Joint Commission are:
• The absence of policies and procedures
• Failure to comply with existing policies and procedures
• Problems with hierarchy and intimidation
• Failure in communication with physicians
• Failure of staff to communicate relevant patient information
• Inadequate or incomplete education of staff.
The unintended retention of a foreign object in a patient after surgery or other invasive procedure is considered a reviewable sentinel event by The Joint Commission.”
If you have been injured as a result of a foreign object left behind during a medical procedure in California or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a California medical malpractice attorney (or a medical malpractice attorney in your state) who may investigate your foreign object medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a foreign object medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
Click here to visit our website or telephone us on our toll-free line in the United States at 800-295-3959 to be connected with California medical malpractice lawyers (or medical malpractice lawyers in your state) who may assist you with your foreign body medical malpractice claim.
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