Any sort of invasive surgery is complicated and requires doctors, nurses, and other operating staff members to focus their full attention on the procedure. The slightest misstep could cause a patient to suffer a serious or fatal injury. And one of the most critical steps of any procedure actually takes place when most of the work has been completed.
Before a patient's surgical incision is closed, it is important that the area being addressed is free of all items used during the procedure. These items can include clamps, forceps, and other surgical devices. Obviously, the presence of such hardware in a patient's body could cause serious problems, but they will typically be noticed in a post-operative x-ray and be quickly dealt with.
But there is a common object that when left behind is much more difficult to detect; the cotton sponge. Cotton sponges are used to absorb blood and other bodily fluids during an operation. And a sponge that is not removed could cause a patient to suffer pain and discomfort for years. In some cases, the complications are so severe as to be fatal.
There are steps that can be taken to prevent the leaving of a sponge in a patient. One method is to simply keep track of the sponges used during the surgery and count them upon their removal, so all are accounted for. There have also been technical advances, such as a system in which radio-frequency tags are used to track the sponges.
But even with these safeguards available, patients are still vulnerable. If you or a loved one has had to endure pain or ill-health due to the effects of a cotton sponge or other object not being removed during surgery, you may wish to consult with a medical malpractice attorney. The attorney can help you determine if you wish to file a suit against the negligent health care provider responsible for the error.