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What are retained foreign bodies after surgery?

On Behalf of | Oct 11, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

There are many complications that can lead to a surgery producing a less-than-ideal outcome for a patient. People can develop infections or have a bad reaction to anesthesia. Medical errors can also occur, often with serious consequences for the affected patient.

Surgeons can make mistakes that reduce the efficacy of an operation or lead to secondary medical challenges. Retained foreign bodies after surgery is one of the more common and devastating surgical errors reported in the United States. What does it mean for a patient to retain foreign bodies after the completion of a surgical procedure?

Surgeons may have left something behind

The idea that a surgical team might leave items inside someone’s body while closing up their incision seems ridiculous, but it is common enough that every hospital has rules to prevent this kind of mistake. There are record-keeping requirements that force surgeons and their support staff to account for every element brought into an operating theater in the hopes of preventing retained foreign bodies.

Sometimes, it is only when they complete their paperwork requirements after surgery that they realize they have not accounted for everything. Items ranging from surgical sponges to clamps and scalpels could end up left behind in someone’s body.

Retained foreign bodies are most common during surgeries on the torso. Generally, retained foreign bodies can lead to both physical trauma and infection, which means there will need to be a secondary surgery to remove those objects. Retained foreign bodies can both cause direct physical trauma and can complicate someone’s recovery after surgery.

Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is an appropriate response when a surgeon leaves something behind after an operation, as a retained foreign bodies scenario is considered a “never event” that simply shouldn’t occur.