It is an unfortunate fact of life that people make mistakes. That fact, however, becomes dangerous when you remember that doctors are just people, too. They can act negligently just like other people can, but their mistakes are costly and potentially even fatal.
This is why the medical malpractice laws in Philadelphia recognize a small handful of healthcare mistakes that should never occur, and when they do, they almost always amount to an instance of medical malpractice.
One of these mistakes, called never events, is when a foreign object gets left inside a patient during surgery.
Foreign Objects are Left Inside Patients at a Shocking Rate
Many surgeries are exceptionally complex procedures. In some of them, the whole point of the procedure is to leave an object like a prosthetic or a screw inside the patient for their medical needs. However, surgeons and others in the operating room can make a mistake and leave something that does not belong inside their patient, too.
While leaving a foreign object inside a patient is called a never event, it happens at a disturbingly high rate. According to one study, surgical instruments – from sponges to scalpels – are left inside patients at the rate of up to once for every 1,000 abdominal surgeries.
Retained Instruments Pose a Serious Health Risk
Surgical instruments are among the most common type of foreign object that gets left inside a patient during a surgical procedure. Unfortunately, these instruments pose a serious and long term health risk to affected patients, even if the retained instrument was something seemingly harmless, like a sponge. Your body has no use for these intrusions, and often fights against them. This can lead to complications elsewhere, in addition to the problems that the foreign object directly causes.
The cost of medical care that is often needed to recover from a foreign object left in your body after a surgery is not small: One study estimated that costs to fix a retained instrument ran from $37,041 to $2,350,000, with an average cost of $95,000.
What to Do if a Foreign Object Was Left After a Surgery
If you or someone you love has been hurt by a surgeon after they left something following a surgery, you should see an attorney. Never events like these are often very strong medical malpractice cases because they utilize the legal doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, which is Latin for, literally, “the thing speaks for itself.” The idea behind res ipsa loquitur cases is that the only way the injury could have been inflicted is if someone was being negligent.
Res ipsa loquitur cases are very rare because they require a set of facts that could not have come about unless someone was acting negligently. Never events like a retained foreign object are just the sort of things that res ipsa loquitur was designed to fix, though, so contact the Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys at the law office of Gilman & Bedigian for the legal help you need to get the compensation you deserve.