Law Offices of Judy Snyder

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Communication and retained surgical items

Retained surgical items are those left behind in a patient after a surgery is carried out. While many stories about this involve clearly dangerous items like scalpels and needles, it could also include things like gauze or sponges. No matter what the item is, it can cause serious physical issues for the patient; in the worst cases, these retained items can lead to injuries, infections and even fatalities.

What you may find yourself wondering is why this can ever happen. It's such a clear error and something that should never occur, and yet it does. People suffer because of it. Why is this?

Medical experts have spent decades trying to answer that question, and one of the biggest things that they have determined is that poor communication plays a significant role. Many of these events could be prevented if the team communicated effectively from start to finish.

For instance, perhaps one nurse was tasked with counting the surgical implements at the end of the procedure. That nurse did not do so but forgot to inform the surgeon. Thinking that the nurse had counted and that everything must be accounted for -- no news is good news -- the surgeon moved forward with closing up the incision. Only later did it come out that the nurse had not done their job and had not communicated that error to anyone else.

This is just one example, but it does help to show all of the risks you face when you have surgery. If mistakes lead to injuries, be sure you know what legal steps to take.

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