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What do surgeons accidentally leave behind in patients?

Robert F. Spohrer

When a surgeon carries out a major operation, they use a lot of different tools and implements. These are put within the body at various points during the procedure. Medical teams are generally supposed to count up everything< they have at the end to ensure that they are all retrieved before finishing the surgery.

However, there are cases where items are left behind. These can go undetected at first. A patient may experience pain while they heal. However, if that pain worsens, then there could be serious complications — like internal bleeding. The patient could also develop a life-threatening infection. These are not symptoms that should be taken lightly.

What items were used during the procedure?

The exact type of item left behind depends on what doctors used during the surgery, as all procedures are slightly unique. However, some examples of objects that have been reportedly left behind before include:

  • Sponges
  • Gauze and other bandages
  • Plyers and clamps
  • Needles
  • Scalpels

Instances in which a medical team member leaves something behind in a patient during surgery are more common than most people realize. Some estimates claim that items are left behind once out of roughly every 1,000 surgical procedures. Other estimates put it higher. Thousands of surgeries occur in the U.S. every month.

The odds of something being forgotten may make you uncomfortable — or make you think about the complications you’ve experienced and their potential reasons. If a medical provider has left something inside of you, you definitely need to know what legal options you have. The ramifications of a mistake, even one that seems so simple, could change the rest of your life. You may need compensation for additional medical costs, lost wages and a lot more.