The decision to undergo a surgery or invasive procedure is often a difficult one. Patients must weigh the possible side effects of the procedure with the dangers of declining surgical intervention. A recent study potentially adds to the difficulty or making such a decision by shedding some light on almost 800 instances of surgical errors. Anyone is North Carolina who feels they have been the victim of such an error can seek legal recourse in a civil court.
The study conducted by an independent organization with a goal of protecting patients from doctors’ errors looks at the instances of foreign objects such as needles, sponges and other medical related items being left in patients during a surgery or other invasive procedure. According to the report, there were 772 reported incidents between 2005 and 2012. Of these instances, 16 of the patients died, and approximately 735 patients experienced a longer hospital stay.
When a foreign object is left inside a patient, there are many possible negative consequences including severe pain and the need for additional surgical intervention. One patient who was suffering from severe pain learned that a surgical sponge had been left in her abdominal cavity almost four years earlier. Such mistakes aren’t simply devastating for the patient, but can also result in an expensive resolution for the hospital.
The organization conducting the survey points out that such surgical errors are completely preventable and suggests ways that the incidents can be lowered. According to the report, hospitals that utilize multiple medical professionals to conduct at least three different counts of surgical equipment reduced the number of foreign objects left behind by nearly half. However, anyone in North Carolina who is a victim of such an error has the option of seeking reimbursement for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages in a civil court. While accidents do happen, an accident during surgery runs the risk of causing a fatality or serious injury.
Source: CBS News, Nearly 800 surgical tools left in patients since 2005: Report, Ryan Jaslow, Oct. 18, 2013