Nobody enjoys surgery; it is invasive and has many inherent risks and complications. People in Maryland place their trust in their surgical team to ensure a safe, successful medical procedure. Unfortunately, errors occur. One of the most common mistakes during a surgical procedure is leaving surgical instruments, including sponges, inside a patient.
When a surgical instrument, especially a sponge, is left inside a patient after an operation, a person could experience serious complications, even death. Contact our experienced Maryland lawyer for sponges left behind during surgery if you or a loved one was harmed because of suspected medical malpractice. Call the Law Offices of Randolph Rice at (410) 694-7291 to schedule a free legal consultation.
How Often Do Sponges Get Left Inside a Patient After Surgery in Maryland?
Surgery is often long, tedious, and demanding. It is not uncommon for even a routine procedure to be plagued with unforeseen complications that strain the abilities of surgeons and nurses. Mistakes could occur when a medical team is working in such a chaotic environment. While it might be hard to believe, surgical sponges and other instruments are sometimes left inside a patient after a procedure.
Leaving items inside patients is so common it has its own name – unintended retention of foreign objects (URFO) or retained sponges and instruments (RSI). A report by the US Department of Health and Human Services states that RSIs occur in 1 out of every 1,000 to 1,500 surgeries. However, it is almost impossible to know how many RSIs occur as hospitals are not required to report them, and many do not result in adverse medical complications. One known fact is that surgical sponges are the most common item left behind.
Before surgery begins, an accurate count of every instrument used is taken, including the number of surgical sponges. However, sponges are used regularly, are often soaked and discolored with blood. Because of this, they easily get lost behind tissue and organs.
Health Complications of Left Behind Sponges After Surgery in Maryland
In most instances where a sponge is left behind after surgery, a patient does not experience any serious medical complications. However, in some cases, it is difficult to tell if postoperative complications result from a retained sponge or some other issue. When a sponge is left inside a patient’s abdominal cavity, they could cause blockages, bowel perforations, inflammation of the abdominal wall, or a severe infection.
Still, many of these complications could be attributed to other problems that are associated with surgery. Some symptoms a patient might experience if a sponge is left behind after surgery include a high fever, discoloration or blistering around the incision area, abnormal pain and fatigue, vomiting or nausea, and numbness of the extremities.
The above list is far from exhaustive. However, if you are experiencing any of the listed symptoms or other complications that are not common after a surgical procedure, consult with one of our Maryland medical malpractice lawyers to see if you were the victim of medical malpractice.
Damages Available to Victims of Injuries from Sponges Left Behind After Surgery in Maryland
To have a sponge or other instrument removed from a patient requires another invasive procedure. Any additional operation will cost money, along with any treatment and postoperative care. A person is also likely to miss a significant amount of work if they undergo more surgical procedures. If you were the victim of medical malpractice, you are entitled to seek compensation for your losses through a personal injury lawsuit.
If you prevail in a medical malpractice claim, you could recover all your medical expenses and lost income, including income you would have earned if you were not the victim of a surgical error. You could also recover for your pain and suffering. However, Maryland has a financial cap on non-economic damages that are recoverable in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Currently, in 2020, the cap is $830,000.
Filing Medical Malpractice Lawsuits for Left Behind Sponges in Maryland
To win a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must prove that a medical professional breached the expected standard of care. To breach the standard of care, a surgeon or another member of the medical team must have deviated from the acceptable medical practices and procedures.
Additionally, you must demonstrate that the breach, or mistake, caused your injury. You can only be compensated if you show that the injury was directly caused by the breach of care by the surgeon or the medical team.
There is also a deadline to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Maryland’s statute of limitations requires bringing a claim within five years of the date of the harm. However, because of the nature of medical injuries, you might be able to file the lawsuit within three years of discovering the harm. It is not uncommon to be unaware of a retained sponge for some time.
When you file a medical malpractice lawsuit in Maryland, it must be accompanied by a certification by a qualified medical expert within 90 days of the filing. Under Maryland law, a certified medical expert must be a licensed medical professional in Maryland or a licensed professional from another state. Without this certification, your case will likely be dismissed.
Call a Maryland Lawyer for Sponges Left Behind During Surgery Today for a Free Consultation
When a surgical sponge or another instrument is left inside your body after an operation, it can lead to severe medical complications, more surgeries, additional recovery time, loss of income, and even death. Our experienced Maryland medical malpractice lawyers for sponges left behind during surgery at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice are committed to holding medical professionals accountable for their costly mistakes. Call (410) 694-7291 today to schedule a free consultation.