When you hear about the various types of error a physician can make while operating on a patient, you inevitably hear about surgeons leaving surgical equipment like sponges, scalpels, safety pins, towels, needles, and other surgical equipment inside patients’ bodies after their surgeries are complete. This is known as a retained surgical instrument. Although retained surgical instruments are rare, they can have substantial, even fatal, consequences for patients.
Hundreds of pieces of equipment are used for every surgery. In many cases where a piece of equipment is left inside a patient, it is discovered during a follow-up x-ray. But sometimes, a retained surgical instrument is not found until the patient suffers an injury or illness in the weeks or months after the surgery. Retained surgical instruments are always preventable and when a patient suffers as the result of one, he or she may seek compensation for his or her damages through a medical malpractice claim.
The Patient Can Suffer an Internal Injury
When a sharp object like a safety pin or knife blade is left inside a patient after surgery, the patient can suffer an injury to an organ or tissue. This can lead to internal bleeding, fistulas, an obstructions which could in turn lead to pain, the need for additional surgery, and if the issue is not corrected in time, death.
The Patient Can Suffer an Infection
When a sponge or other porous item is left inside a patient, bacteria can build up in the item and cause the patient to suffer an infection. Even with other types of equipment, an infection can occur if the equipment was not sterilized properly before the surgery.
An infection can become deadly for a patient if the patient does not receive antibiotics and follow-up treatment in a timely manner. Sometimes, infections can cause life-changing complications for patients, such as rendering an individual infertile.
The Patient May Require Additional Surgery
When a piece of retained surgical equipment is discovered, the patient may need additional surgery to have it removed. This can mean additional recovery time for the patient, new medical expenses, and the emotional trauma of having to undergo additional surgery because of a healthcare provider’s error. For these expenses, a patient can seek compensation through a medical malpractice claim.
Work with an Experienced Chicago Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you have suffered an injury or illness because of a surgeon’s error, you could be entitled to recover monetary compensation for your damages through a medical malpractice claim. To learn more, schedule your initial consultation with a member of our close-knit, goal-oriented team at Baizer Kolar, P.C.