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Surgical sponges left behind in woman, causing pain

The practice of medicine is inherently dangerous. Patients are often given potent drugs and cut open all in an attempt to cure certain ailments. Fortunately, most medical professionals are thoroughly trained and hold an extensive amount of experience, thereby allowing them to provide competent medical treatment to their patients. Yet, even those who are educated and trained can make mistakes. When errors occur, innocent and unsuspecting patients can suffer significant harm that sometimes leaves them disabled or, in the worst cases, dead.

To see just how egregious these mistakes can be one need only look at one incident that was recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine. In that case, a woman went to the doctor complaining of bloating that had lasted for three years. Upon further examination, medical professionals discovered that surgical sponges had been left inside the woman after one of her two C-sections, the most recent of which was six years ago. When doctors removed the sponges, they found that fibrous walls had grown around the sponges.

This is an example of a medical event that should never occur. However, since surgical sponges absorb blood, they can become difficult to discern from other parts of a patient's body. Although most medical institutions have implemented pre- and post-operation checklists to ensure that nothing is left behind in a patient, errors are still made. As in this instance, such a mistake can leave a patient with pain and suffering that lasts years.

Holding medical professionals accountable for their negligence often requires filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Taking such legal action can be not only stressful, but also challenging, as doctors and hospitals are often represented by teams of experienced, knowledgeable and aggressive attorneys. This means that medical malpractice victims need to make sure that they have a strong legal advocate on their side.

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