WAS A FOREIGN OBJECT LEFT IN YOUR BODY AFTER SURGERY? WAS IT A SCISSOR, A SPONGE, A NEEDLE OR MAYBE SOME GAUZE? WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT RETAINED FOREIGN OBJECTS AFTER SURGERY!
While it may be shocking, a common surgical error is to leave foreign objects like sponges, gauze, needles and even surgical instruments or towels inside the patient. The result can be disastrous to the patient. Foreign objects left in the body can lead to life-threatening infections, organ damage, and severe pain. Even in the best case scenario patients are typically subjected to the physical and emotional stresses of otherwise unnecessary surgery, hospitalizations, scars, and additional expenses.
These cases require a thorough understanding of appropriate operating room procedures and the various roles of the surgeons and operating staff. Minimal operating room procedures include:
An initial count prior to surgery of all sponges, needles, and other surgical instruments that will be placed inside the patient’s body during surgery.
The initial count serves as a baseline for subsequent counts.
The designated nurse should audibly count each item before surgery, whenever more sponges or instruments are added to the surgical field, before closing any body cavity, and before completion of the surgical procedure.
The nursing staff should document each count.
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