Surgical foreign objects

How Often Are Foreign Objects Left In Patients’ Bodies After Surgery?

The idea of a surgeon leaving something in your body after a procedure seems unthinkable. And yet, it happens more often than many of us would like to admit. A 2012 study by Johns Hopkins University found that surgeons left foreign objects inside their patients’ bodies at least 39 times a week. Those objects include things like towels and sponges. Objects left in your body can cause serious problems, and if you’re a victim of this form of medical malpractice, you need the dedicated lawyers of Hale & Monico.

What Is Considered a Foreign Object

It’s not easy to determine whether a foreign object has been left in the body. A “foreign object” could include metallic tools like a scalpel. One Illinois mother underwent back surgery in 2007, only to discover in 2015 (after years of pain) that a tool had been left inside her. It is more likely that an object left in the body will be something soft and difficult to detect. Or it could be a small piece of a larger object that has broken off in the body. These can cause as many or even more problems as a larger object that is readily sensed after surgery.

Following surgery, it’s common to experience pain and soreness. Depending on the procedure, however, this discomfort should subside in a number of days or weeks. When it doesn’t, it’s vital that you seek medical attention to get an examination. As long as a foreign object remains in your body, it can serious complications, among them:

  • Infection
  • Abscess
  • Migration (the object travels to another part of the body)
  • Stiffness
  • Internal bleeding
  • Severe and recurring pain
  • Difficulty urinating or passing stool
  • Trouble eating, breathing, or swallowing

These and other problems can prove fatal to some patients, leading to deadly infections and obstructions. At a minimum, a foreign object left in the body will cause unnecessary suffering and potentially thousands of dollars in medical expenses. The fact is, these mistakes are almost never excusable and strongly point to medical negligence.

We trust surgeons to carefully operate on us because we can’t see or understand what they are doing. That’s why the law imposes such a high duty of care on medical professionals. Although you can never be guaranteed that there won’t be some errors made, all procedures should be free of unreasonable ones. An unintended foreign object left in the body is a pretty clear sign of medical malpractice, and the surgeon or other professional should be held accountable.

If you suspect an object has been left in your body, here are the steps you should take:

  • See another doctor. There’s a high probability that the facility that operated on you will fail to disclose whether an object has been left in you for fear of a malpractice lawsuit. See another doctor to get an examination.
  • Collect your medical records. Your medical records are a necessary part of building a case for malpractice. Anything related to the surgery, including tests performed and diagnoses made by the surgeon, should be gathered.
  • Talk to an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Malpractice cases are complicated. Our attorneys are skilled in Illinois medical malpractice law, and we know how to build a convincing case.

Contact Hale & Monico Today to Discuss Your Options

Surgery patients deserve the utmost care. When medical professionals fail them, they deserve justice. If you’ve been a victim of malpractice, let Hale & Monico fight for you. Call us today.