Blog

Not All Hospitals Apply the Improved Methods of Tracking Surgical Items Used in Patients' Bodies During Surgeries

Photo of Randy Sorrels

It is estimated that there are 4,000 cases of "retained surgical items" reported in the United States on an annual basis. And many think that this number is way too low. In a recent article, the New York Times analyzed the method used by surgical teams to avoid leaving surgical instruments and sponges in the patients' body following surgery. Items left include clamps, scalpels, scissors, and suturing devices. The most common retain surgical item is a sponge. These sponges (or towels as they are sometimes referred to) are often used by surgeons to soak up blood. During longer operations, doctors may use dozens of these inside a patient to control bleeding. But keeping track of the number of sponges going in and number of sponges going out can often be difficult in a chaotic environment of the surgical suite.

Many hospitals still rely on the old-fashioned method of manually counting the number of sponges placed in the patient and the number of sponges that come out. But miscounts occur, and patients can be left with negative results ranging from very minimal to very devastating. These towel-like devices can be a major source of infection and can adhere to organs in the body. Often, the effect of the retained sponge can remain dormant in a patient for a long period of time before a devastating effect is quickly known. There are new technologies and sponge-counting methods that have been developed in recent years to help reduce the number of retained items left in patients. Unfortunately, many hospitals have been slow or even outright resistant to adopting these methods and their surgical practices.

All hospitals should be required to use the more technologically advanced counting and tracking devices in their surgical protocols. This technology includes the ability to track sponges through the use of radio-frequency tags. In a study done at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, it was reported after looking at 2,285 cases using this more technologically advanced tracking system, 23 miscounted sponges were recovered from patients during an 11 month period. Using a system called RF Assure Detection, every sponge contains a tiny radio-frequency tag about the size of a grain of rice. At the conclusion of the surgery, a detector alerts the surgical team if any sponges remain inside the patient. The cost of using this system adds about $10 to the cost of the surgical procedure. Other technology includes using barcodes.

In any event, most hospitals can improve their methods to help accurately count surgical devices and should be required to do so.

If you or someone you know has been injured by a surgical error, contact the attorneys at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend by calling 713-222-7211 or 1-800-870-9584.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Awards & Recognition

  • 2016-2017 Equal Access to Justice Champion

    The Equal Access to Justice Champions Program was started by the Houston Bar Association in 2006, to help ensure placement of Houston Volunteer Lawyers cases with pro bono volunteers. Originally, firms were tiered according to size, and firms within each tier committed to accept a certain number of pro bono cases from HVL each year for five years.

  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers

    The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state or region who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase objective and uniformly applied process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research.

  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum

    Established in 1993, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum (which includes the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum) is one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States. Membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. There are over 4000 members throughout the country. Fewer than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members.

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers America | Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz | 2017

    Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Their methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

  • Lead Counsel Rated

    In order to earn the Lead Counsel Rating, an attorney must not only demonstrate significant legal experience, but must also receive multiple peer recommendations advocating his or her ability. This is a key component in the screening process.

  • Texas Super Lawyers | Texas Monthly

    Each year, Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in Texas via a patented multiphase selection process involving peer nomination, independent research and peer evaluation. The Texas lawyers who receive the highest point totals during this selection process are further recognized in Texas Super Lawyers Top Lists.

Get Your Free Case Review 713.587.9668

Let Us Help You Today! Request a Free Consultation

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented nearly 100 victims who suffered personal injuries and damages to property from a large fire and explosion resulting in a settlement of more than $50 million. The firm served as lead lawyers on the steering committee in this litigation.

  • $80 Million Personal Injury Large Plant Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 270 plaintiffs', taking a lead role in the plaintiffs' steering committee, who suffered injuries in a large plant explosion resulting in a settlement of nearly $80 million.

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Plant Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 45 personal injury victims in a plant fire and explosion, serving on the plaintiffs' steering committee, concluding with a settlement of more than $50 million.

  • $22+ Million Personal Injury Work Site Accident

    The firm prevailed in a personal injury trial for a worksite injury client with the jury returning a verdict and resulting in a judgment of over $22 million for the firm's client.

  • $12 Million Auto Accident 18-Wheeler Collision

    The firm successfully achieved a $12 million settlement for the family of a man who died in an 18 wheeler collision.

  • $30 Million Personal Injury Burn Victims

    The firm prevailed on behalf of three burn victims with settlements totaling nearly $30 million.

Our Record Of Success.

When you are hurt and you choose a law firm to represent you in court or at the negotiation table, you need to carefully consider the firm's record.

More Success Stories