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Does your post-surgical x-ray look like it's from a horror movie?

You probably have heard stories about surgeons leaving objects behind in patients after surgery, but you never thought it could happen to you. When you underwent your surgical procedure, you probably trusted the surgical team to do its job correctly, which included making sure that nothing was left in your body that didn't belong.

After the procedure, you may have experienced extreme pain, infection, fever or swelling, among other symptoms. Upon examination and imaging tests such as x-rays, doctors told you that they discovered a foreign object left behind by the surgical team. Now, you face an additional surgery to remove the object, which puts you at risk for further health complications. In addition, the surgeon needs to make sure that the object didn't cause any damage to your organs.

How does this happen?

Not to provide an excuse for the medical personnel involved in your procedure, but sources estimate that each surgical procedure requires more than 250 tools and surgical instruments. Keeping track of all those objects may present a challenge. Surgeons often rely on technicians and nurses to keep count, but they are human, and mistakes happen. The following factors increase the potential for an object to be left inside the body of a patient:

  • The patient's body mass
  • Unexpected changes during the procedure
  • High blood loss during the procedure
  • Multiple procedures at one time
  • Multiple surgical teams at one time

Research indicates that somewhere between 4,500 and 6,000 of these incidents occur each year.

What objects get left behind?

The most common objects left behind after a surgical procedure include the following:

  • Scalpels
  • Guide wires
  • Forceps
  • Surgical masks
  • Surgical gloves
  • Scissors
  • Drain tips
  • Towels
  • Tweezers
  • Clamps
  • Tubes
  • Measuring devices
  • Scopes
  • Needles
  • Sponges

The last two items are the most common. The most common parts of the body in which objects are left include the chest cavity, the abdomen and the vagina with the highest incidences occurring in the abdomen.

What can you do about it?

If a surgeon left a foreign object inside your body and you suffered serious health consequences, including the need for additional surgery or surgeries, you may be able to file a medical malpractice claim seeking compensation for your injuries and other damages. To increase your chances of successfully receiving an award of damages through litigation, you may want to consider enlisting the advice and assistance of an experienced South Carolina medical malpractice attorney.

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