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Equipment left in surgery patients leads to serious conditions

It sounds like a horrific premise. You or someone you love goes under the knife for surgery, and the knife or some surgical tool is left inside the patient. Unfortunately, it does happen. In fact, according to a report by The Joint Commission, a health care watchdog organization, between 2005 and 2012 there were almost 800 cases reported of surgical equipment left behind in patients' bodies. While most cases led to a patient's extended stay in the hospital, more than a dozen cases were severe. The study found 16 deaths attributed to the problem.

While accidents can occur in any occupation and in any industry, medical negligence can be prevented. According to the study, there are various factors that could lead to such a situation including but not limited to issues within a hospital such a hierarchy problems, a lack of communication between a doctor or surgeon and medical staff, a lack of procedures and policies at the medical facility and a failure to comply with existing procedures.

The most common tools and equipment left in a patient include instruments, needles, towels and sponges. Common sites for such medical negligence include delivery and labor rooms, operating rooms and labs and ambulatory surgery centers where procedures such as colonoscopies take place.

When a patient enters a medical facility, he or she expects a professional level of care. To show medical malpractice, an injured person must show that his or her level of care fell below professional standards, and that the patient suffered injuries as a result. Successfully pursuing a medical malpractice claim is tough, technical work. It's important for the injured to have the help of a skilled lawyer.

Source: CBS News, "Nearly 800 surgical tools left in patients since 2005: Report," By Ryan Jaslow, Oct. 18, 2013

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