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Retained surgical instruments pose a serious hazard

Patients who go into a surgery expect to leave the surgery in somewhat better shape than when they went into the surgery. What these patients don't expect is to leave the surgery with retained surgical instruments that can pose a problem later on. When surgical instruments remain in the patient, serious harm can occur.

Various types of surgical instruments can be left behind in the patient, but the most common item is the ribbon retractor. Because this item is usually placed near the end of the surgery and must be removed prior to the completion, it is usually considered an add-in that isn't part of the standard instrument tray. This means that it might not be something that is accounted for when the tray is checked.

The ribbon retractor isn't the only surgical instrument that might be left behind. Scissors, hemostats, clamps, and other instruments might all be left in the patient. In every case, the instrument remaining in the patient can lead to infections and other medical issues.

The reasons for retained surgical instruments vary from one case to another. Surgeons and others in attendance in the operating room might become distracted. The items might slip out of the view of the surgeon. Inaccurate accounting of items in the operating room might lead to an item being left behind.

When an item is left behind during surgery, you might have to have another surgery. That is unacceptable and disheartening. It could mean you have to miss work and will mean that you have to endrue more pain. With those factors in mind, you might choose to seek compensation for the injuries you suffered because of the retained surgical instrument.

Source: NoThing Left Behind, "Retained Surgical Instruments," accessed June 21, 2016

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