Surgical errors happen more often than people might realize — and can be devastating for the patient. Preventable errors that take place in a New York operating room are often prime candidates for medical malpractice suits because of the devastation that they could cause.
Adding to some people’s outrage is the fact that many of these errors are preventable — and the way to prevent them costs a pittance. According to research, the most common item left behind inside a patient’s body after surgery is the sponge. These are relatively small pieces of material that can be hard to see after soaking up blood — so they may get left behind in surgery.
The simple way to prevent this, of course, is to keep an accurate count of how many sponges are being used and make sure that they all are accounted for before concluding the surgery. There isn’t even a need to manually count them, however: sponges can be outfitted with barcodes or tagged with radiofrequency tags — better known as RF tags — that send out a signal. A quick scan of a patient with a specially designed detecting wand alerts surgical staff to any sponges that are remaining inside the patient.
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As it turns out, this technology would add about $10, at the most, to the cost of surgery. This is a drop in the bucket compared with the costs of additional treatment a patient needs if a sponge is left behind. However, only about 15 percent of hospitals currently use this type of technology. As a result, these mistakes continue to happen. A New York resident who has been the victim of a surgical error can consult with a medical malpractice attorney to see what options might exist for legal action.
Source: Forbes, “The Nauseating Mistake Hospitals Make And The $10 Fix They Scrimp On,” Leah Binder, Oct. 24, 2013