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Rockford surgical malpractice attorneysWhether it is an appendectomy, bypass surgery, cesarean section, carotid endarterectomy, or another surgical procedure, going in for surgery can be a scary experience. While most surgeries are successful and do not involve unexpected complications, not every surgery goes according to plan. Sometimes surgical procedures result in a patient’s injury or death, and there is nothing that the surgeons could have done to prevent it. Other times, it is the surgeon’s carelessness that is directly responsible for the negative outcome. One especially alarming example of medical negligence during surgery occurs when a surgeon leaves a foreign object inside the patient’s body.

Foreign Objects Left Behind During Surgery

Surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, and other medical staff involved in surgical procedures must complete years of rigorous classes and training before being permitted to perform surgery. Unfortunately, these medical professionals may still make mistakes that endanger the lives of their patients. Equipment such as scalpels, scissors, forceps, clamps, and sponges, are often used during surgical procedures. Surgeons and nurses are expected to keep track of these objects and ensure that no object is still inside the patient’s body when the surgery is complete. Unfortunately, misunderstandings and miscommunications can lead to equipment being forgotten. It is estimated that surgical equipment and other objects are left inside of patients’ bodies an average of 4,500–6,000 times each year in the United States.

Consequences of Major Surgical Mistakes Are Often Catastrophic

The problem of retained foreign objects is one that is entirely preventable. Medical staff should be fully aware of the number and types of equipment used during surgery and should account for these objects before closing the patient’s incision and completing the surgery. Leaving a foreign object inside of a person’s body can cause them to suffer extreme and unnecessary pain. It can also lead to life-threatening infections, punctures and perforations of tissues and internal organs, reduced blood flow, and even death. If he or she survives, a patient may require additional surgeries and other medical treatment to mitigate the damage caused by the careless error. 

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Winnebago County medical malpractice lawyersThe medical advances our society has achieved in the last few decades have allowed people to overcome injuries and illnesses that would have certainly been fatal in the past. Many of these advancements involve invasive surgical procedures. Getting surgery almost always involves certain risks, but some of these risks are avoidable and completely unacceptable. When an avoidable surgical error is made during an operation, the results can be catastrophic. Surgeons, doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals can be held legally responsible when these types of medical mistakes result in the death or injury of a patient. 

Understanding When a Medical Professional Has Committed Medical Negligence

Sometimes problems and complications occur during surgery due to no fault of the medical staff conducting the operation. Just because a surgical procedure fails to produce the desired result does not mean medical negligence has occurred. Generally, medical negligence is defined as when substandard medical care leads to some type of harm to the patient.

Some surgical errors are so preventable that they are called “never events” meaning that these particular mistakes should never happen. Never events include mistakes like leaving a surgical instrument inside a patient's body, performing surgery on the wrong body part, and performing the wrong surgical procedure on a patient. These types of mistakes often lead to medical malpractice claims. 

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Rockford medical malpractice lawyersWhen a person goes to the hospital to get surgery for an illness or injury, they assume the doctors, nurses, and surgeons taking care of them will do their job with caution and attentiveness. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. A recent study from Johns Hopkins shows that over 250,000 individuals die every year in the U.S from medical errors. Other studies suggest that the number of individuals killed by medical mistakes is closer to 440,000. One medical error which occurs startlingly often is the unintended retention of foreign objects (URFOs) during surgical procedures.

Surgical Items Left Inside Patients Bodies

Alarmingly, it is not unheard of for patients to discover that a surgeon or other medical professional left a piece of medical equipment inside their body. Leaving surgical instruments in a person’s body after invasive procedures can cause serious illness and even death. The type of object left in the person’s body and the length of time it was retained are the main factors that determine the severity of this error.

In some cases, retained objects are discovered immediately after a surgical procedure through an X-ray or during a follow-up. Other times, the foreign objects left in a patient’s body are only identified after the patient seeks medical attention for unexplained pain. The most common objects which are left inside patients include:

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