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Surgical errors: Retained foreign objects

It might be surprising and disturbing, but one of the most common surgical errors in operations is when a foreign body, such as a surgical instrument, is left inside the body after the operation has taken place.

These mistakes can occasionally be life-threatening, but they almost always create more pain, suffering and inconvenience for the patient; through no fault of his or her own. This surgical error is most commonly known as retained surgical bodies (RSB).

What happens when a surgical instrument is left inside the body?

RSB will hold very different consequences depending on the type of material that was left inside the body, and the location in which the material was left. RSB most commonly occurs in the abdominal cavity, and most often patients complain of pain, or even suffer tumors and abscesses as a result. They also might be discovered because of inflammation in the area.

The first response to RSB will most likely be an urgent operation to remove the foreign body. This is because the success rate is generally highest if the removal operation occurs within two weeks of the initial operation taking place.

Can RSB be prevented?

All cases of RSB are down to human error, and it has been reported that in 88 percent of RSB cases, the instrument counts were falsely reported as correct by nurses in the surgery.

If you or a loved one has been negatively affected by RSB, then it is important to consider the ways that you have been negatively effected by this error, and look into ways in which you could recoup the damages.

Source: NCBI, "The OSHA Inspection: A Step-by-Step Guide," accessed Nov. 24, 2017

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