Doctors Leave Medical Objects Inside 1500 Patients Each Year

Medical studies have found that a shocking 1500 patients each year have medical devices (often sponges) left inside of them by doctors.

In torts, such cases are well-known and often gruesome. Most such cases represent obvious matters of malpractice, particularly since a simple sponge count can quickly identify a missing sponge in surgery. Ironically, one of the most egregious cases resulted in no liability due to the bar on military personnel suing for malpractice. The case was one of three cases that resulted in the infamous Feres Doctrine. In the case, doctors left a 30-inch towel in a patient that was later discovered. The towel had writing across it that said it was the property of the U.S. military.

Most of these cases are settled. Plaintiffs can also use res ipsa loquitur (“the thing speaks for itself”) to prove that this is the type of accident that does not normally occur but for negligence. However, as in the famous case of Ybarra v. Spangard, 25 Cal.2d 486, 154 P.2d 687 (Cal.1944), courts have complained of a certain “conspiracy of silence” among doctors and even nurses when confronted with malpractice. It is hard, however, to deny negligence when a sponge or scalpel is found in patient.

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8 thoughts on “Doctors Leave Medical Objects Inside 1500 Patients Each Year”

  1. I have a question in regard to something similiar to the wendy’s incident. On 9/21/2009 I experienced something similiar. I am in Montgomery,AL and was eating lunch in one of the local nationwide restuarants and experienced eating ceramic glass in my salad. I went to the ER and some of it was still visible on the xray. However, I haven’t been able to find anyone here to handle this type of case. Help me!

  2. And they are supposed to be water-proof…”keeps on tickin'”!

    Tapes and transcripts were probably mistakenly implanted in Cheney, but he will plead 4th Amendment against any attempts to retrieve them.

    Happy Friday….I guess.

  3. Well, the nice thing is that patients are allowed to keep any objects left inside of them.

  4. Possession is 9/10 the law…

    Even better, the hypothetical, not-so-mistakenly implanted ‘missing’ interrogation tapes…

  5. An interesting question is ownership of mistakenly implanted items. Suppose the surgeon left his rolex in the patient (I know that the surgical gloves make this high unlikely, but grant me the hypothetical).

    Years later, it shows up in an xray and is extracted in a second surgery.

    Can the patient claim ownership? (perhaps in lieu of a more substantial recovery from a malpractice claim 🙂 )

  6. I know I’ll regret this, because I agree in the negligence argument

    But I wonder how many would say there is a certain assumption of risk, as in the broken tooth resulting from a cherry pit contained in a fresh cherry pie, as opposed to the completely unexpected, unmarked, ’empty’ elevator shaft and/or its implied trust.

  7. From a Republican point of view, this is GOOD news because at least these doctors didn’t leave 1500 objects in ONE patient!

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