Do Chicago surgeons really leave tools inside patients?

Carelessness is not exclusive to accident-prone people. When you trip over a child’s toy, who’s to blame – the daughter who was told to put away her things or you for not watching your step? Consequences of careless actions vary. An at-home mishap could result in a bruise, cut or, in your daughter’s case, a repeat lecture on safety.

Now, take thoughtlessness to a bigger arena – the workplace, where inattentiveness can cost employers profits and you a promotion or job. The stakes go higher driving on a street or during an operation. Careless health care practices create surgical errors that seriously injure or kill patients. The consequences move from safety lectures to damages for medical negligence.

It’s almost unbelievable that a highly-trained and educated hospital staff could leave a sponge, surgical tool or other foreign object inside a patient’s body. The Joint Commission, a health safety advocacy group, recently reported 772 patients nationwide had unsafe objects left inside them by medical professionals, between 2005 and 2012.

The reported incidents resulted in patient suffering, extended treatment and, in some cases, death. The mistakes were often dismissed until a subsequent X-ray picked up evidence of foreign objects lodged in the patient’s body.

When do these grievous errors occur? According to the research, the incidents were prevalent among patients undergoing surgeries, childbirth and invasive treatments like colonoscopies. An emergency surgery patient was nine times likelier to have a left-behind foreign object in his body than in other health care situations.

The preventable mistake takes its physical toll, but harmed patients also suffer emotionally. Imagine learning the intense pain you feel is linked to a needle left behind during surgery. Researchers blame these costly, painful errors on lax safety policies, staff noncompliance, inadequate training and poor communication.

Carelessness that harms patients is compensable. Negligence and malpractice lawsuits permit victims of medical negligence to seek monetary relief.

Source:, “Nearly 800 surgical tools left in patients since 2005: Report” Ryan Jaslow, Oct. 18, 2013

Surgical Errors


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