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Surgical errors: "Never events" happen all the time

While some surgical errors are made due to a miscalculation on the part of the surgeon, others are not supposed to ever happen.
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    February 08, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Surgical errors: "Never events" happen all the time

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Over the last several years there have been major developments in the field of surgery, making it possible for surgeons in Oakland County to repair damaged organs or bones with less time and less risk. Despite these advancements, no surgery is without some form of risk and surgical errors can occur.

While some surgical errors are made due to a miscalculation on the part of the surgeon, others are not supposed to ever happen. These errors, according to Medical News Today, are called "never events". A study conducted in 2012 showed that over a 20-year period, from 1990 to 2010, more than 80,000 patients were victims of these never events in the United States. The study looked at medical malpractice claims to find their data.

Surgical sponges left behind

One never event that happens quite often is the retained surgical item. This occurs when a surgeon leaves a surgical instrument or a sponge inside the patient before they close the site. Surgical sponges are used to absorb bodily fluids inside the patient around the surgical site in order for the surgeon to work. Because of this, they often blend in with other muscle and tissue, making them hard to see. Hospitals often rely on a physical count method to make sure that they are all accounted for but this is often not effective.

USA Today reports that one hospital in Indiana relied on this method until an increase of cases involving lost sponges encouraged them to adopt a new technology where sponges are embedded with tracking devices. Since implementing the system, the hospital's retained surgical sponge error rate has remained at zero for the last five years. However, despite the availability of this new technology, less than 600 hospitals in the U.S. have purchased it.

Long-term effects

When sponges are left undetected, they can become imbedded in the body's tissues and it can take months or years till the problem is discovered. Victims of retained surgical sponges often struggle with:
-Digestive problems.
-Permanent scarring.
-The need for additional surgeries.
-Emotional trauma.

One victim thought he was suffering from a stomach flu but after struggling with severe abdominal pain and constant vomiting for a couple of weeks, a CT scan showed that there were several surgical sponges left inside him from a surgery he had the year before. The sponges had attached to his intestines, causing infections. After several surgeries, and surviving a coma that was medically induced, he still struggles physically, mentally and emotionally with the surgical error.

Surgical errors happen all the time

Medical News Today estimates that about 4,000 never events happen every year within U.S. surgical rooms. When people are the victims of these types of surgical errors, they can suffer permanent disabilities that prevent them from working or enjoying a normal life. In such cases, they should talk to an experienced attorney about their legal options in seeking compensation.

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