Foreign Objects Left In Surgical Patients

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.

Hypoxic Brain Injury- Intubation

Tracheal intubation (TI), usually simply referred to as intubation, is a procedure performed by medical professionals in the setting of respiratory failure and shock. This procedure involves inserting a flexible plastic tube into the patient’s trachea (windpipe) to maintain an open airway, assist with breathing and can also serve as a channel through which to administer certain drugs.

Although intubation is a life-saving intervention, life-threatening complications may arise if this complex procedure is not done correctly. Negligent placement of the endotracheal tube into the esophagus, instead of the trachea, is a major cause of cardiac arrest and brain damage associated with intubation.  If this mistake is not immediately recognized and the tubing withdrawn from the patient’s esophagus, the patient’s airway remains blocked and hypoxic brain injury or anoxic brain injury can result from the asphyxiation caused by negligent intubation.

Patients must have a continuous supply of oxygen to the brain in order to survive. If the oxygen supply is interrupted, even for a short amount of time, the functioning of the brain is disturbed immediately and irreversible damage can quickly follow. Despite intubation guidelines and years of training in airway management, medical mistakes continue to be made, causing catastrophic complications to arise.

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.

The attorneys at Yost Legal Group are experienced, caring professionals ready to investigate your claim with compassion and determination. Call us today to receive a free, confidential consultation about your possible case. At The Yost Legal Group, there is no fee or expense unless you recover.


Pulmonary Embolism is The Leading Cause of Preventable Deaths in Patients Hospitalized for Surgical Procedures

Pulmonary embolism (PE) is usually caused by a blood clot (deep vein thrombosis, or “DVT”) formed in the deep veins of one or both legs, although it is possible for DVTs to form in any deep vein in the body. Unless the DVT is discovered and treated, all or part of the clot will enter the bloodstream and travel into the lungs where it lodges in a pulmonary artery and blocks the flow of blood into the lungs. Because the oxygen-depleted blood is unable to reach the lungs, the body suddenly becomes starved for oxygen. Without immediate relief, the patient may suffer devastating injuries, including brain injury, permanent lung and heart damage or death.

DVTs are more likely to develop in your legs if you experience long periods of inactivity, such as being confined to bed, having a cast on your leg or being immobile during any type of surgery under general anesthesia. The risk of DVT and PE developing during surgery increases with the length of time the patient remains under general anesthesia. Although the patient’s surgeon and other health care professionals are responsible for taking the appropriate precautions to prevent the occurrence of DVT and PE, this devastating medical condition often takes place post-surgery, in a hospital environment.

Post-operative precautions to avoid venous thromboembolism may include the patient wearing compression stockings or pneumatic compression cuffs (to massage and squeeze the leg veins to improve circulation) or taking medication to prevent blood from clotting too quickly. If a DVT or PE is suspected, the patient will undergo testing, including blood sampling to determine how quickly the patient’s blood is clotting (PT, PTT and/or INR tests) and whether the blood shows evidence of clots (D-dimer test). Imaging studies may also be ordered, to view the patient’s deep veins (Doppler ultrasound), lungs (chest X-ray, CT, spiral CT and MRI), and pulmonary arteries (pulmonary angiogram test).

Treatment of DVT and PE is designed to prevent any existing blood clot from getting bigger and stop any new blood clots from forming and traveling to the lungs. Blood thinning medications (anticoagulants) prevent new clots from forming. Clot dissolving drugs (thrombolytics) break up clots quickly. Surgical procedures are also used to treat dangerous blood clots: large, life-threatening clots can be surgically removed from the deep veins and surgery to implant a vein filter can help trap clots before they reach the lungs.

  • As many as 900,000 people are impacted by DVT/PE every year.
  • Up to 100,000 of these 900,000 individuals die due to complications.
  • Approximately 33% of patients who have had DVT and PE will experience another DVT and PE within 10 years.

Pulmonary embolism is the most common cause of preventable death in patients hospitalized for surgical procedures. Recent studies have also recognized PE as one of the most frequently missed diagnoses in living patients. If you would like to discuss a potential claim arising from a DVT or PE, the attorneys at Yost Legal Group are experienced professionals ready to investigate your claim with compassion and determination. For a free consultation, please call us at 1-800-YOST-LAW (967-8529).