Retained Foreign Object / Surgical Sponge / Abdominal Surgery


All surgeries inherently carry some form of risk. As a patient, you don’t expect one of those risks to be that your surgical team would make a mistake and leave a surgical sponge inside your body after the procedure is completed. To cut down on errors involving foreign objects retained after surgery, hospitals and other healthcare facilities often have procedures in place to guard against these errors. When medical personnel follow proper procedures, the likelihood of error decreases. However, negligence can still happen and if it does, the impact on a patient can range from serious injury to life-threatening illness.

There are many factors which may occur in the operating room that can lead to an increased risk of retained foreign objects. One reason for an increased risk is the body mass index of the patient. Sponges and other instruments may slip into an area that is not easily seen by medical personnel and could be left inside a patient after surgery. Another reason for increased risk is a lengthy surgery. The longer it takes to perform the surgery the more likely a mistake is to be made as staff may mistakenly think that the object count was already performed. Yet another reason for increased risk for retained foreign objects is emergency or urgent cases. When time is of the essence and people are hurrying to stabilize a patient or perform a procedure quickly, a proper count of instruments may not be completed, thus making a post-operative count of medical instruments difficult.

While healthcare professionals do their best to adhere to procedures that reduce the risk of a retained foreign object after surgery, they should also be especially alert to any patient complaints post-operatively to ensure there were no mistakes made. When a patient complains of pain or displays other symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, fever, or lethargy, medical personnel should take these issues seriously and screen the patient for possible causes including a retained object from surgery. Considering this possibility can be a matter of life or death for a patient.

Summary of a Claim
Failure of surgeons and sponge count surgical assistants to remove a sponge during an abdominal surgery resulted in retention of the sponge for almost two years causing several abdominal symptoms. Significant settlement obtained.

Your Rights
Errors of any type can be costly. When the error involves medical personnel and their failure to account for all surgical instruments which results in a retained foreign object after surgery, the impact on your health can be significant. Surgical sponges are frequently used in a variety of procedures. These items must be counted prior to and immediately following a procedure to ensure no objects are left behind. Failure to do this can result in a second surgery to remove the item in addition to any serious injury or illness the sponge may have caused.

If you or someone you care about was seriously injured due to a medical professional making an error which caused a foreign object to be retained in your body after a surgery, such as a surgical sponge, contact us. Our Indiana medical malpractice attorneys can discuss your claim and inform you of your legal rights and options.