Surgeons must meet some of the strictest standards for any licensed medical professionals. They undergo not just multiple years of medical school but also a lengthy internship. They often partner with hospitals to access the best possible facilities for the services that they provide their patients, and those hospitals typically impose extensive requirements for each procedure.
Despite the many layers of protective rules that exist, surgeons still frequently make catastrophic mistakes during operations. A few dozen times each week, surgeons operate on the wrong part of someone’s body or perform the wrong procedure on a patient. Slightly more frequently, they make the mistake of leaving behind foreign objects when they finish a surgical procedure. One type of operation has a much higher risk than others for retained foreign bodies left behind inside a patient after surgery.
Abdominal surgery carries the biggest risk
Many surgical procedures have a relatively small area that the surgeon accesses. A surgery to set a compound fracture in the arm or replace a knee will have minimal open space. Therefore, the chances of a surgeon leaving something behind in the incision without noticing it will be relatively small. However, when doctors perform procedures in the abdomen or torso, the chance of leaving objects behind increases substantially.
The vast majority of such errors take place during torso or abdominal procedures. There are several reasons for the increased risk. There is more negative space in which items can fall and the bigger the incision site, which means it is easier it is for a surgeon and their support staff to overlook gauze or other foreign bodies before closing up an incision. Procedures on the digestive tract or heart could last far longer than surgeries on extremities, meaning that fatigue could play a role in the mistake as well.
Although hospital paperwork typically requires that surgical employees account for every last piece of gauze and other tools utilized in a procedure, people may not finish the paperwork until later and then may realize that the mistake occurred. Retained foreign bodies often require revision procedures, as the items left behind create a risk of trauma and also infection.
Knowing what risks come with what procedures might make it easier for patients who have experienced medical malpractice to advocate for an appropriate resolution to their situation with the assistance of an experienced attorney.