Surgical errors occur at least 80 times each week in the U.S.

Surgical errors are quite common in the U.S., with retained surgical sponges counting as the most common surgical mistake.

When patients check in to have a surgical procedure performed in a Maryland healthcare facility, they put their lives in the hands of licensed surgeons, nurses and other members of the surgical staff. Most patients are not expecting to be the next victim of a surgical error. Mistakes in the operating room happen all too often in the United States. According to a study published in the medical journal Surgery, preventable surgical errors occur in America about 80 times a week. John Hopkins University reported that U.S. surgeons leave foreign objects inside patients at least 39 times every week. Furthermore, surgeons operate on the wrong body part, perform the wrong surgery or operate on the wrong patient.

Retained surgical items

As surgeons operate, they often have a tray filled with various surgical instruments close at hand. The surgical staff is responsible for keeping track of all of these items before, during and after the procedure. Yet, is some cases, these items may end up on the inside of the patient's sutures, which can cause significant problems later on. The most common items left behind are surgical sponges or gauze that are used to clean the surgical site of blood and other bodily fluids. These sponges can be extremely hard to find once they become soaked. The surgical team is required to account for every sponge and instrument before sewing up the patient. Yet in four out of five cases where items were left behind in a patient, the team had reported that all of the items were accounted for, as reported in New York Times.

Case in point

In one incident, a man was found to have several surgical sponges attached to his intestines. According to USA Today, he ended up losing parts of his intestines and colon due to the horrific amount of infection that was present. The man had grown incredibly emaciated, was vomiting uncontrollably and was in a significant amount of pain when his family took him in for a CT scan. That's when doctors found the sponges, which had been left there from a surgery he had over a year ago. Not only is the man left with permanent scars across his abdomen, he must wear a pouch that catches his waste for the rest of his life. From minor procedures to high-risk surgeries, medical mistakes can changes peoples' lives forever.

Contact an attorney

Whether you have personally suffered from a retained surgical item or another type of surgical mistake, or you have lost a loved one because of a doctor's negligence, you may want to consider contacting a personal injury attorney in Maryland. An attorney may be able to provide personalized legal counsel that will help you with your medical malpractice case.

Keywords: malpractice, error, surgery