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Lubbock County Medical Malpractice Attorney
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Costs related to retained surgical instruments tops $2.4 billion

Approximately one in every 5,500 surgeries involves a retained surgical instrument. In other words, the patient has a medical device or item accidentally left behind in them after the procedure. Approximately 70 percent of these surgical devices are sponges. While a sponge or a surgical screw doesn't have a large monetary value for a Texas hospital, the price of a medical mistake can be enormous. The costs per each case of a retained surgical device averages $600,000 in damages and legal fees. The annual costs across the nation are estimated to be $2.4 billion.

Because of the high cost, medical device equipment manufacturers are developing technology to help reduce the number of retained devices during surgery. One of these technologies involves embedding an identification barcode into each sponge. This helps track how many were used during the surgery and if any surgical devices were retained within the body cavity. Many hospitals and health care facilities already have policies where nurses and surgeons count the number of devices used before and after surgery. Unfortunately, human errors still occur with this method. In approximately 88 percent of the cases of surgical device retention, the devices were counted out loud.

Since hospitals began utilizing the barcode technology, medical professionals have been able to compare the physical count to the sponge barcode technology count. No devices have been left during surgery when using both systems together. Device manufacturers hope to continue to make advancements that eliminate surgery risks.

Surgical errors, which could involve retained medical devices or wrong-site surgery, may result in additional medical procedures, infection, a worsened condition and/or death. When a surgical error is a result of a careless surgeon, legal action may be warranted. If the proper steps and technology weren't utilized when counting surgical devices and a device was retained, the patient may be able to collect damages by filing a lawsuit.

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