Peach & Weathers - A Law Corporation

Over 60 Years of Combined Experience In Personal Injury Law

Miscounting occurs in surgeries more often than you think

Whether it is a scheduled routine surgery or an emergency surgery, patients in California and elsewhere often have many concerns regarding the procedure they are about to undergo. While a highly trained and educated surgeon will conduct them, these medical professionals are still humans that are capable of human errors. A simple medical error could mean the difference between a successful surgery and the patient not surviving the procedure. Thus, patients harmed by a surgical error should be aware of their rights and what options are afforded to them following such a tragic incident.

Counting surgical objects seems like a simple task. If there were 10 of something before surgery then there should be 10 of something after the surgery is complete. Unfortunately, this isn't that easy. Miscounting surgical objects accounts for 4,500 to 6,000 of cases of retained surgical items reported in the U.S. Of these, 70 percent of these cases claim that they retained records of a correct count following surgery.

Miscounting surgical objects is like miscounting a deck of cards. There might actually be 52 cards in the deck, but a counter continually gets 53 or 51. There are numerous explanations for miscounts, and this typically includes factors such as distractions, excess noise, time pressures and attempting to remember a count at the same time.

When a patient is left with a surgical object inside of them, seven out of 10 time it is a sponge. Based on current estimates, 11 patients every day are sutured up with a surgical sponge still inside of their body. And because these incidents tend to be underreported, the actual number of these events is expected to be higher.

It is clear that the manual counting of surgical sponges and instruments are susceptible to human errors. Even more so, manual counting alone is not enough to prevent these errors from occurring and possibly harming a patient. Thus, it might be the time to implement new methods and technology to keep an accurate count before, during and after surgery.

Suffering an injury due to surgical errors can be very shocking for a patient. However, it is possible for a patient to hold a negligent medical professional liable for their mistakes. A medical malpractice attorney could help with accountability and the recovery of compensation, which could be used for medical bills, lost wages and other related damages.

Source: Outpatientsurgery.net, "You Can't Count on Counts Alone," Dan O'Connor, July 22, 2017

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