Foreign Objects Left In Surgical Patients

August 1st, 2017

Leaving foreign objects (including sponges, needles and instruments) in patients during surgical procedures is a widely recognized medical error classified as a “Never Event”. The term “Never Event” refers to a hospital-acquired condition that should not, under any circumstances, occur. A surgical tool, such a sponge or forceps, placed inside a patient during surgery but not removed at the end of the surgical procedure, can result in serious complications including infection, vascular injury, organ damage, uncontrolled bleeding or other, life-threatening, injuries.

With more than 4,000 surgical “never events” occurring annually in the United States (as reported by a 2013 study of surgical errors), it is important to be aware of the circumstances and consequences surrounding retained surgical instruments (RSI) following a surgical procedure.

A surgical sponge is the most commonly reported RSI following surgery. However, instruments such as scalpels, needles, scissors, tweezers, forceps, clamps and tubing have also been documented. Once inside the patient’s body, an RSI can cause various complications depending on the type and location of the object left behind. Complications include: bacteria collection around the foreign object, producing infection; intestinal perforation; and, internal bleeding. The most common symptom is excruciating, unexplained pain in the patient – days, weeks or even months after a surgery. Additional surgery (frequently more extensive than the patient’s original, scheduled, procedure) is usually required to remove the item, once diagnosed.

Proper patient care and safety should always be the top priority in any medical setting.  In the operating room, standard procedure includes performing needle, sponge and instrument counts at the end of each surgical procedure but these counts are not always accurate. Medical negligence has occurred whenever a surgical instrument is left in a patient.

If you or a loved one feel you are the victim of a medical mistake contact The Yost Legal Group today at 1-800-YOST-LAW (800-403-7259). When you call, you will speak with an experienced Baltimore Medical Malpractice attorney absolutely FREE.

We handle all cases on a contingency fee basis. This means you will never pay an attorney’s fee up front, and you owe us nothing unless we win your case.

Yost Legal Group Selects Recipient of 2018 College Essay Scholarship Yost Legal Group College Scholarship Essay Winner

As always, Yost Legal Group is thrilled by any opportunity to help students in our community succeed. This year, the Yost Legal Group 2018 College Scholarship Essay Program welcomed submissions from current or prospective undergraduate students attending accredited universities and colleges. This year’s recipient was awarded a $1,000 scholarship toward tuition to help them pursue their chosen field of study. The chosen topic this year was “How to Change a Negative Societal Problem in the…

Read More »

Have a Happy Halloween from The Yost Legal Group

Halloween is right around the corner, and children and families throughout Maryland are preparing their costumes and decorating their homes for a frightful, fun night. Even though Halloween is a fun holiday for kids and families to enjoy, there are important safety tips that you should discuss with your children. At The Yost Legal Group we want everyone to have a fun filled, and safe Halloween. Whether you plan to trick or treat throughout your…

Read More »

Mirena IUD: The FDA and Bayer Pharmaceuticals

In 2001, Bayer Pharmaceuticals introduced and promoted the Mirena Intrauterine Device (IUD) as a highly effective birth control method. Mirena is a flexible, plastic, T-shaped device inserted through the cervix and into the uterus by a healthcare professional. The IUD can remain in place for up to 5 years and prevents pregnancy by releasing a progestin hormone called levonorgestrel into the body. Bayer recommended Mirena to women who already had a child and were looking…

Read More »


Despite advances in neonatal care, preventable injuries to newborns are still prevalent in the United States. Jaundice, a common medical condition in infants, is characterized by yellow tinting of a newborn’s skin and the whites of the eyes (conjunctiva). This yellowing is a sign that there is too much bilirubin (a substance formed by the breakdown of red blood cells) in the baby’s blood. Although most jaundice resolves without causing any harm, it is important…

Read More »