Surgical instrument left inside your body at Hartford Hospital.

You might think it is impossible to leave a surgical instrument or a sponge inside your body after surgery, but it occurs consistently.  About 1 in every 5000 operations.  This is a clear case of medical malpractice, and can cause serious harm.  For example, you have had surgery at Hartford Hospital, Middlesex Hospital, or Backus Hospital and a sponge is left inside you.  You can imagine how a bloddy sponge left inside the abdoman can get infected.  It can cause real problems. 

The traditional method to prevent malpractice by leaving surgical sponges or instruments inside the body.

The method traditionally used to prevent this malpractice is the counting method.  Nurses count the sponges that go in, and then count the sponges that go out.  The number should be the same.  If they are not, there is a problem.  The counting method is a good method as long as people are careful with their work--which is counting.  It seems simple.  But errors do occur.

Errors do occur, and when that happens hospitals should take responsibility for the error, and try to take steps to prevent that error in the future.

New technology can be used to reduce the rate of error and therefore increase patient safety.

Additionally, technology such a x-rays, and bar codes is also used in some hospitals to prevent this error.  The newest technology uses radiofrequency detection systems as a method to prevent this type of error.  A tiny piece of detectable material is placed on the sponge like a tiny computer chip, and then a wand can be passed over you to see if there is a sponge inside you.  

It is important to use all available new technologies in conjunction with the traditional method to ensure patient safety from "retained surgical instruments."  

While this new technology should also be used it is still important to do a good count, and hospitals should not rely solely on the machines to make sure patients are safe.  Machines and technology can break down.  Therefore, a good surgical in-out count is still crucial for patient safety.  

Where to get answers to your questions.

If you or anyone you know has had a surgery and a sponge or other instrument was left inside the patient, and they suffered harm from that error we can help answer your questions and bring a medical malpractice case if that is your desire.  Contact The Bartinik Law Firm, P.C., 100 Fort Hill Road, Groton, Connecticut at 860-445-8521 or toll free at 888-717-4211.




Peter J. Bartinik, Jr.
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Civil Trial Attorney, Practicing Law in Connecticut
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