Serious problems caused by retained surgical items

Some of the most upsetting examples of medical malpractice include cases where a surgical tool or other foreign object is left inside a person. Retained surgical items present serious complications for patients, and unfortunately, statistics show that they affect roughly 1,500 patients ever year.

While this may seem like a small number, especially considering there are an estimated 28 million operations performed every year in the U.S., each case has the potential to threaten a person's life. As such, it is vital to take these situations seriously and examine the legal options available.

A one-inch mistake

One mother is pursuing her legal option to file a lawsuit after she learned that her severe back pain over the last 14 years stems from a needle that broke off during the administration of an epidural.

According to reports like this one, the inch-long needle tip is lodged in her spine. Removing it at this point could leave her paralyzed; leaving it in could also lead to paralysis.

Noted, but not informed

The woman's medical records evidently show that the spinal needle attempt was unsuccessful, but the woman was never notified. And she says that at no point in the last 14 years did the hospital inform her about the broken needle. It is likely that if corrective action had been taken right away, the damage would have been avoided.

Never events

Leaving foreign objects like sponges, tools or needles inside a person is a serious situation that is typically completely preventable. In fact, it is one of many "never events" that should never occur during surgery. However, because of factors like miscommunication and failed or ignored operating procedures, it can and does happen.

Addressing this type of claim

Patients in New Mexico who have an adverse reaction to mistakes like retained surgical instruments often have grounds to pursue a medical malpractice claim. While these claims cannot undo the damage, they can help victims and their families cope with the financial and emotional fallout from such an upsetting incident.

Hospitals and medical workers would be wise to not ignore similar incidents. Notifying a patient right away and taking appropriate steps to remedy the situation could go a long way in helping the patient recover and minimizing legal ramifications.

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