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How Often Do Surgeons Leave Something Inside?

When it comes to the line of work, especially in the professional field, an employee or professional could not afford to make a mistake, especially since they have a huge responsibility to maintain the high quality of services they uphold for long periods of time. However, every person is not perfect anyway so there will be no guarantee that an employee could constantly be at their best and provide flawless services.

The only thing an employee or professional could do whenever they made an error in their services is to promise that they will do better in the future to avoid any problems that could arise in the future if the quality of work is constantly improving.

But in a different field, such as the medical field, where it is the essence of human life and wellness, the medical field has a huge and daunting responsibility in saving a person’s life. It is a very heavy responsibility since if a medical professional’s performance goes awry, it could lead to possible situations that are dangerous to a person’s life.

How Often Do Surgeons Leave Something Inside?

Since this topic tackles the medical field and most specifically about surgeons, this will only focus on some of the most daunting yet common occurrences within the operation room that could possibly harm a patient.

In the medical field, surgeons are known to be one of the medical professionals who are extremely skilled in providing services for the patients, more advanced in terms of knowledge since their specialties require them to train for so many years which could almost take about a decade, and most importantly, they have one of the biggest roles and responsibilities in the medical field due to how dangerous and sensitive their techniques and work in regards of treating the patient from diseases and illnesses.

Surgeons perform surgeries on a daily basis. If you do not know what surgery is, it is a process that needs to be performed by a surgical team. The surgical team will also prepare themselves by putting on their scrubs, cleaning their hands, their arms, and wearing surgical gloves, wearing their surgical gloves, keeping their hair inside their surgical caps, and preparing the tools and machinery for the surgical process.

The surgical team will perform the process of sedation on a patient on an operating table, inside an operating room and the patient will be medicated with painkillers or anesthesia. Once the patient is sedated, the surgeon could proceed with operating on the patient by marking on the surgery site and incising the patient on that part.

Some surgeons can perform successful surgeries and the only thing that a patient can do is to recover from it. However, in some instances, some patients could experience some complications after the surgery because there is a possibility that a surgeon has performed an error.

There are some possible errors that would have caused it, and one of the most common errors could be when the surgeon left something inside the patient’s body.

Some surgeons leave gauzes, sponges, and other minuscule foreign items that are not supposed to remain inside a person’s body since it could cause toxic shock syndrome due to that foreign object infecting other organs with the bacteria it forms.

But the fortunate thing about the error of leaving foreign objects in the body of a patient during the surgery does not happen oftentimes. Things that are left inside the body when surgery happens are called retained objects and it happens in a ratio of 1 out of 1,00 surgeries which is actually quite a few although it still happens occasionally.

What are Some of the Factors or Reasons Why Surgeons Tend to Leave Something Inside their Patients?

In order for the error of leaving foreign objects inside the body of the patient to be avoided, surgeons would count the number of tools they use before the surgery. They also count the number of sponges, gauzes, or towels that were supposed to be used for the surgery so that they could recount them once the surgery is finished.

It is clearly obvious that if the amount was lesser than before, it could either be misplaced or it could have been left inside the body. The solution for this worst-case scenario is to perhaps look for the missing item and if it is in a fortunate situation, then the surgery was a success, but if it is not found, have the patient checked immediately through a scanner to locate the foreign object.

If the objects are left unattended after surgery and the patient was not scanned by an x-ray or it was not vivid, chances are, the damages of that retained object could show in the future and will cause worse and health-damaging situations to the patient.

This error could be extremely fatal for the patient but what is the main reason or what are the factors that cause these circumstances or errors if we all know that a surgeon will always do their best to deliver high quality of surgical treatment and be careful with handling patients?

To answer the question, some objects such as sponges, gauzes, and towels are easily left inside due to them being one of the most absorbent materials. The surgery uses the said three items to clean wounds and patch them up, which in return, absorbs the blood and if they absorb too much blood, they would somehow be camouflaged or look identical to a person’s tissue which is why some surgeons missed to see them due to the similarities of a soaked sponge or gauze to a tissue, or muscle of the body.

Another factor of why items are sometimes left inside the body by accident during surgery is because they are too small. Some objects such as needles have also a higher chance of getting missed by a surgeon so that they will be left inside the body because of their size, and their thinness. Needles are also hard to handle in that situation since it will be expected in performing surgical operations that there will be so much fluid involved, mainly blood. This is why needles could get easily slip out of a surgeon’s grip and perhaps fall inside the body of the patient, unnoticed.

Sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2014/09/04/when-your-surgeon-accidentally-leaves-something-inside-you/

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