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Woman Discovered Surgical Instrument Left In Her Body

Michelle Doig-Collins, of Rancho Santa Margarita, talked to her OB/GYN about having some surgical procedures done. She was going to have a uterine ablation to address heavy periods she was having, and a tubal ligation because she did not want to have any more children. Doig-Collins expected a quick recovery from the routine surgical procedure, instead, she spent over two months suffering pain until she finally discovered the left-behind surgical instrument.

The mother of three went to the Surgical Center at Saddleback for the common gynecological procedure. After she was discharged, she spent the next few days in pain, wondering why her condition was not improving. She complained of nausea, heavy cramping, and serious pain. She went to her doctor multiple times after the surgery, but her doctor found nothing wrong. Her doctor said she had a severe vaginal infection, and gave her antibiotics.

The antibiotics helped ease the pain temporarily, but it soon returned and continued to get worse. One day, when she was going to the bathroom, she found that her toilet paper caught on a metal probe inside her body. She was rushed to the emergency room and an X-ray revealed a large part of a surgical instrument had been left in her body after the procedure.

I freaked, I panicked,” said Doig-Collins. “How did no one see this? I had this thing in me for 11 weeks.” The device was 6 centimeters long, and 2 ½ centimeters wide.

“I am telling you from experience that this is not rare,” said her attorney in an interview with a local news reporter. Doig-Collins is filing a lawsuit against the surgery center and doctors involved in her operation.

According to one report, almost 4,000 people in the U.S. have objects left behind inside their body after surgery. Also termed “retained surgical objects”, the most common objects left behind include surgical towels, surgical sponges, microneedles, sheaths, and guidewires. These surgical errors can lead to serious infection, sepsis, or even death.

Retained surgical objects can take years to be discovered. In many cases, the patients continue to suffer mysterious pains that their doctors fail to properly diagnose. The most common sites for retained surgical items include the abdomen, pelvis, vagina, and chest. Surgical tool checklists and accounting are supposed to prevent retained surgical objects; however, some doctors still oppose using checklists during surgery.

According to Dr. Verna C. Gibbs’ website, “Most hospitals have policies which require this inspection, however, there are a huge number of instruments and objects used during cases and it is important that surgical technologists remain familiar with how these items work and come apart so they will be able to detect missing pieces.”

If you or a loved one had a foreign object left behind after surgery, the Gilman & Bedigian team is fully equipped to handle the complex process of filing a malpractice claim on your behalf. Our staff, including a physician and attorneys with decades of malpractice litigation experience, will focus on getting you compensated, so you can focus on healing and moving forward.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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