The number of unintentionally retained foreign objects, including retained surgical items, reported to agencies overseeing such matters, indicates that this “never event” remains a significant problem. With more than 28 million operations performed nationwide, agencies tasked with oversight estimate that the number of cases in which surgeons leave behind foreign objects during a procedure in the United States is around 1,500 cases per year. Retained foreign objects can cause serious morbidity and even mortality. Quite frequently, medical professionals misdiagnose it. If you or a loved one has a retained foreign object left over from surgery, please continue reading, then contact an experienced Houston, Texas retained foreign objects lawyer soon.
What is a retained foreign object in Texas?
In medical terms, a foreign object is something that is in the body but does not belong there. Either accidentally or intentionally, medical personnel may insert foreign objects into the body. Practically every surgery requires the use of instruments. As such, some types of retained foreign objects include:
How do I know if I have a retained foreign object?
An extended period of time may pass between the occurrence and detection of a retained foreign object. More often than not, doctors and other medical personnel immediately detect retained foreign objects post-procedure. They do this by X-rays, during routine follow-up visits or from the patient’s report of pain or discomfort.
What happens if I have a retained foreign object?
Foreign objects left inside a patient after surgery can result in dangerous medical situations. Medical sponges or gauze can accumulate bacteria, often leading to serious infections that can spread faster and result in severe illness or potentially death. Sharp or pointed foreign objects left inside a patient can lacerate organs or puncture tissues with devastating results. A foreign object that perforates an intestine can cause its contents to spill into the abdominal area, resulting in a potentially fatal infection. Other complications from unintentional retained foreign objects may include:
- Internal bleeding
- Infection or internal abscess
- The unintentional retained foreign object traveling internally to another part of the body
- Severe, recurring pain
- Difficulty eating, breathing or swallowing
- Deadly obstructions
- The surgical incision starting to open, bleed or become discolored
- The immediate area surrounding the incision feels hot, swollen or hard when pressed
- Coughing up blood
- Nausea or vomiting
What should you do if you suspect you have a retained foreign object?
It is important you get checked out by a doctor if you have concerns following your surgery. You can always go to a different doctor or hospital for another examination if you feel uncomfortable returning to the same medical facility that performed your surgery.
If a second opinion confirms the presence of a foreign object, you should speak with a skilled Houston, Texas surgical error lawyer to discuss your rights and responsibilities.
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