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Retained Surgical Items (RSI’s) are any inadvertently left behind items in a patient’s body following surgery and are the most preventable of all medical errors. A study in the “Annals of Surgery” reports that mistakes in tool and sponge counts occurs in 12.5% of surgeries. The “Patient Safety Monitor Alert” published that in 2003, over 1,500 tools were left patients each year. The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Eastern Virginia Medical School reported that leaving a medical tool behind certain types of surgery may occur as often as once per 1,000 surgeries.

Because RSI outcomes without “major permanent loss of function” are not required to be reported, an exact accounting of the problem is not possible. Accordingly, RSI estimates are undoubtedly low.

The consequences of RSI include injury, disability or death, additional surgeries, increased medical costs and lost time from work.

In a typical surgery there may be dozens of surgical tools, instruments and other items being used, every one of which increases the chance for the surgical team to lose track of an instrument or sponge.

There are many different types of items that have been left behind during a surgery, including:

  • Clamps
  • Cryotomes and cutting laser guides
  • Electrosurgical adapters
  • Forceps
  • Scalpels
  • Scissors
  • Sponges or laparotomy pads
  • Suction tips and tubes

The single most common object left behind is a sponge.

If you or a family member has sustained injuries due to a Retained Surgical Item, contact the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Charles G. Monnett III & Associates today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal options and get the compensation you deserve. Call 704.376.1911 or toll-free 1.800.977.3077, or Contact Us online.



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