Surgery can be a frightening experience, as you must place your trust in your surgeon to safely perform an invasive medical procedure. Surgeons and surgical teams work hard to ensure a safe and successful operation. However, mistakes can still happen.
It may be hard to believe that one of the most common errors committed is leaving foreign objects inside a patient after the surgery. Foreign objects left inside a patient after surgery can result in physical complications, pain and suffering, and even death. Call the experienced Maryland foreign object left in the body after surgery attorneys at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice at (410) 694-7291 to schedule a free legal consultation.
Causes of Foreign Objects Left Inside a Patient After Surgery
A surgical operation can be long, difficult, and intensive, and even the most routine surgeries can have unforeseen complications. Exhausted surgical staff and a chaotic operating room environment can lead to critical errors and mistakes. A surprisingly common error is leaving a foreign object in a patient after the surgery.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, unintended retention of foreign objects (URFO) occurs in 1 out of every 1,000 to 5,000 surgeries. Sponges are the objects most frequently left behind after surgery. Due to the number of sponges used during a typical surgery and the discoloration from the blood they absorb, sponges are easily lost among the body’s organs and tissue.
However, sponges are not the only objects left behind. A surprising variety of instruments left inside patients includes needles, scalpels, clamps, scissors, and surgical gloves and masks. All of these items can lead to catastrophic medical complications.
Human error is the most common cause of foreign objects and medical instruments left behind in patients after surgery. More specifically, inaccurate instrument counts are one of the main reasons. Doctors and nursing staff should count all instruments before and after surgery to ensure none have gone missing, and failing to do this can be considered negligence.
Symptoms and Complications of Foreign Objects Left inside a Patient After Surgery
Many times, a foreign object or surgical instrument may be left inside a patient after surgery without any complications. It is often difficult to determine if postoperative symptoms or complications are a direct result of a foreign object left in the body or just a natural result of surgery, but more serious symptoms may show that the issue is bigger than normal postoperative pain and discomfort.
Foreign objects left inside a patient can fester with bacteria and cause infections, tear or destroy internal tissue and organs, and cause a patient to need second opinions or new surgical operations to remove the item. Some other postoperative symptoms of foreign objects left behind include the following:
- High fever
- Discoloration of the incision area
- Blistering or swelling at the incision site
- Bad odors from the incision site
- Stitches pulling apart
- Increased pain and fatigue
- Vomiting or coughing up blood
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Constipation or difficulty urinating
If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms after surgery, or if something else feels or looks wrong, consult with one of our Maryland medical malpractice lawyers to help determine if you were the victim of a surgical error involving a foreign object left behind after surgery.
Types of Damages From Foreign Objects Left in the Body After Surgery
Another invasive surgery may be required to remove a foreign object left in a patient after an operation. Additional surgeries will be necessary if the instrument tore, perforated, or damaged an organ. Any extra surgeries will increase medical costs, pain, and suffering and potentially result in an increased loss of income. Damages can typically be claimed for all of these types of economic and noneconomic harm.
Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawsuits for Foreign Objects Left in Patients After Surgery
To recover damages for medical malpractice in Maryland, you must be able to prove four elements: a duty of care, a breach of that duty, causation, and damages.
Medical professionals owe their patients a duty of care that is comparable to the care a similarly experienced, knowledgeable, and prudent professional would provide. You must show that the medical professional breached that standard of care, meaning that the surgeon or another member of the surgical team deviated from normally accepted practices or treatments.
Additionally, you must also prove that the mistake was the direct cause of the injury and that there were actual damages. Damages can be economic or noneconomic damages directly related to the injury.
Maryland also requires cases to be certified by a qualified medical expert within 90 days of filing the medical malpractice claim. A qualified expert must be a licensed medical professional in Maryland or someone with a comparable license from another state. Additionally, the medical professional must be knowledgeable in the accepted standard of care in the same discipline as the defendant. Failing to file this certification or have a judge waive the requirement will result in your claim being dismissed.
Many cases involving retained objects after surgery have a very short deadline to file, so it is important that you seek a second opinion from another doctor and call a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.
Call Our Maryland Foreign Object Left in the Body After Surgery Attorney Today
A foreign object left inside your body after surgery can lead to serious medical complications, additional surgery, pain and suffering, difficult recovery time, lost income, and even death. The experienced foreign object left in the body after surgery attorneys at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice will work tirelessly to help you pursue your medical malpractice claim. Call (410) 964-7291 today to schedule a free consultation.