The unfortunate truth is that many items do get left behind in patients once their surgeries are finished. Those items, like sponges or surgical equipment, may actually be stitched up inside the wound, leaving them to fester and potentially lead to infection or other complications

What sort of things get left behind in patients’ bodies?

Sponges are among the most common items to be left in patients, but why? There is a simple answer. When the sponge is first inserted into the body, it’s stark, bright white. When the body bleeds due to surgical cuts, the sponges are used to absorb that blood and keep the area manageable, so the surgeon can continue to work.

Unfortunately, though sponges are beneficial, they are also difficult to find after they’re soaked with blood. That means that they may get left behind, even if the nursing staff and surgeon are careful to remove as many as possible.

Sponges aren’t the only items to get left behind, though. Some other common items that are often left inside patients include:

  • Drain tips
  • Forceps
  • Scopes
  • Surgical masks
  • Tweezers
  • Scalpels
  • Towels
  • Needles
  • Tubes
  • Clamps

It’s hard to imagine leaving behind larger tools like scalpels or needles, but that does happen. Unfortunately, sharp objects may perforate the patient’s organs and other tissues, requiring emergency surgery to repair the damage. Items like sponges or towels may hold bacteria and lead to significant infections.

What should you do if an item was left inside your body after surgery?

It’s important to know your rights as a patient. If you had to go through additional pain and expense to get the item removed because of a medical error, then it is within your rights to pursue a medical malpractice claim.