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Jason R. Schultz P.C

Surgical Medical Malpractice: Foreign Objects Left in the Body after Surgery

Discovering that a foreign object was left in the body after surgery is among the most potentially devastating and preventable forms of surgical medical malpractice. Although some errors made by healthcare providers aren’t always considered negligent, this type of mistake is considered a 'never event', meaning it should never happen.

As a result, patients who are seriously injured could be entitled to compensation for the damages he or she have suffered. Consulting with an Atlanta medical malpractice attorney should be the next step in order to learn what legal options could be available.

What are some common types of objects left inside the body after surgery?

Some examples of other medical objects that may be left in the body after surgery include:

  • guide wires;
  • gauze;
  • metal tubes;
  • needles;
  • retractors swabs;
  • scalpels;
  • sponges; and
  • towels.

Among the common objects left inside the body are sponges. This is oftentimes attributed to the fact that dozens of sponges can be used during a procedure, and some surgical teams may struggle to keep track of all the sponges that are used.

Another reason that sponges may be left inside the body is because they tend to blend in with the patient’s tissues. This is especially true when there is significant bleeding. But no matter the reasoning, there is never a valid excuse to leave a sponge inside of a patient, and this may warrant pursuing a surgical medical malpractice case with an Atlanta medical malpractice attorney.

What procedures are more at risk of foreign objects being life inside a patient?

Certain types of procedures may bring a higher risk of an object being left inside the patient's body, such as when operating on areas of the torso, like the abdominal or chest regions.

In addition to these procedures being a risk, there are other factors that may contribute to the likelihood of an instrument being left behind. Patients who are overweight or obese may have a greater chance of being a victim of this type surgical medical malpractice. Further, surgery performed in an emergency may also increase risk.

What are signs or symptoms that may indicate a foreign object was left in the body after surgery?

It can sometimes be a challenge to differentiate between normal pain and abnormal complications or discomfort after a surgical procedure. Oftentimes, the pain will continue long after the patient should have started to feel better. However, there are some general signs and symptoms to consider.

Some signs and symptoms that may indicate a foreign object was left in the body after surgery include:

  • swelling;
  • fever;
  • blood clot; and
  • significant pain.

What should victims do when they believe surgical medical malpractice has occurred?

If a patient believes he or she might have been the victim of surgical medical malpractice, there are steps that can be taken to verify this. One is to seek a second opinion. This is especially important since some surgeons might not want to own up to a mistake.

Another tip is to request an X-ray, as foreign objects will generally show up through imaging. It is also a good idea to keep a journal of symptoms that develop after surgery. Doing so can help in distinguishing between what’s normal and expected and what might not be.

Patients may also consult with an Atlanta medical malpractice attorney, who can help collect necessary evidence, like medical records, and who can talk to medical experts who may provide testimony in the case.

When is it a good time to contact an Atlanta medical malpractice attorney?

It’s generally a good time to seek legal counsel with an Atlanta medical malpractice attorney when there is evidence that a surgical error has occurred. This is especially true if the repercussions cause further injury, such as having part of the intestines removed or developed a life-threatening infection.

Having to undergo a second surgery to remove the object might warrant filing a claim for damages. Contacting an Atlanta medical malpractice attorney at the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz can help injured victims better understand their rights following surgical medical malpractice and learn what types of damages may be recoverable if an object is left in their body after surgery.  


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