New Technology Could Prevent the Most Common Surgical Error in KY

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Your doctor said that your surgery was low risk, and it seemed that it went well with no complications. You recovered quickly and were up and about in no time at all.  Then you started feeling pain near the surgical site. You went back to the doctor and he said that everything looked well; however, it got worse. You started spiking a fever and had problems with vomiting and diarrhea. Your doctor decided to take a look at the surgical site with a CT scan, and he found a sponge. A tiny surgical sponge had been left in your body, had obstructed your bowels, and was causing scarring. In the end, you needed another surgery to remove the sponge and part of your intestine had to be removed.

Stories like this are not uncommon. Forgotten sponges are the most common surgical mistake and occur in about one out of every 1,500 surgeries.  These sponges can cause bowel obstruction, colon perforation, infection, and even death.

Most hospitals have procedures designed to prevent sponges from being left in a patient’s body, and sponges are counted several times during surgery. Each sponge that comes in the operating room must be accounted for; however, counts aren’t always correct. In fact, in more than two-thirds of medical malpractice cases involving sponges and other objects left in the body during surgery, the object was thought to be accounted for.

To combat this problem, new technology may help hospitals detect sponges before they cause problems. The new sponges are embedded with a tiny computer chip. The computer chip emits a radio signal. After surgery, a nurse or doctor uses a detector wand to scan the body for sponges. If a sponge is present, the wand will detect its signal and emit an alert, so that doctors can remove the sponge before it causes harm.

Sponge tracking systems have been available since 2008, but not all hospitals use this technology. Cost is a major factor; computer-embedded sponges add about $12 to the cost of a typical operation. This may seem like a small amount, but it is a major investment for a hospital that does thousands of procedures each year.

If you have suffered a serious injury after surgery in a Louisville hospital, you may be eligible for to file a Kentucky medical malpractice claim. To learn if you are eligible to receive compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages, contact the Louisville surgical malpractice attorneys at Gray and White Law at 888-450-4456. There is no charge for the initial consultation.