Miami Retained Surgical Instruments Lawyer
The Joint Commission, a not-for-profit responsible for the certification of over 20,000 health care organizations in the United States, indicated in an October 2013 report that almost 800 people have had surgical items left inside them after surgery between 2005 and 2012. These incidents have resulted in 16 deaths.
Retained surgical items (or instruments), or RSIs, can sometimes go undetected for months and even years after an operation. As of this writing, there is no federal reporting requirement when a staff member from a hospital leaves an instrument in a patient, so there is no way of knowing the true rate of incidence for these mistakes. Additionally, the amount of time between the initial surgery and the discovery of the RSI also contributes to the issue of identifying when or where the mistake occurred.
A variety of surgical items have been discovered in patients in wounds of every size and after almost every kind of operation, including needles, broken pieces of surgical instruments, scissors, scalpels, forceps, and clamps. The most frequently retained surgical item, however, is the sponge.
As one can imagine, RSIs can cause serious harm to the unfortunate patient left with the extra addition in his body. Prior to its discovery, an RSI may leave a patient in severe pain and discomfort. An adverse reaction by the body to the foreign item and infection are constant threats. In extreme cases, death can result. In addition, patients often must endure repeated doctor visits in an effort to diagnose the problem. The patient may suffer emotional distress as a result of being labeled a hypochondriac by doctors who can find nothing wrong with the patient. When an RSI is eventually discovered, a second operation is usually required in order to remove it.
RSIs are completely avoidable, so much so that they are referred to in the medical world as “never events” – defined by the National Patient Safety Agency as “serious, largely preventable safety incidents that should not occur if the available preventative measures have been implemented.” So how, then, do these “never events” happen?
Some of the most common reasons attributed to the occurrence of RSIs include:
- A lack of policies and procedures for how surgical instruments are accounted for before and after surgery
- When these policies and procedures do exist, failure by the medical staff to comply with them
- Failure in communication between doctors and other medical staff before, during, and after a surgical procedure
- Improper training and education of medical staff
A retained surgical instrument may be an unfortunate mishap by a medical professional. Nonetheless, all medical professionals have a duty to meet a specific standard of care towards their patients. If you or a loved one has been injured by an RSI, you have a legal right to seek compensation for not only your medical expenses, but also your pain and suffering. The experienced malpractice lawyers at Pita Weber Del Prado will fight to hold the medical professionals accountable for any injuries you or a loved one may have suffered as a result of an RSI. Contact us in Miami today at (305) 670-8060 to discuss your options during a free consultation.