When a patient goes through surgery, the goal is always to remove all tools and sponges from the patient’s body before the surgery is completed and the patient is stitched up. Unfortunately, there are many cases in which patients deal with infection and other complications because of items that have been left behind.
Retained surgical foreign bodies can be life-threatening, lead to sepsis or simply be an annoyance, but the reality is that they should never be found in patients. Good communication helps surgeons and their team prevent accidents in which items are left behind.
When items, like sponges, are left inside a patient, it’s partially due to a breakdown in communication. Another potential reason could be due to where the sponge is. When a white sponge is placed in the body, it can quickly become red and camouflage itself, making it hard to find. In those situations, clear communication is essential, because the staff needs to know when sponges are still missing.
What happens when surgical sponges are left inside the body?
When sponges are left inside a patient, the patient may need surgery a second time to retrieve them. The sponges can be a breeding area for infection, get tangled around body parts and tissues or simply cause bloating and discomfort.
Regardless of the kind of surgery you have or how prepared the team is, it’s essential that no tools or medical supplies are left inside your body. If they are, they could be dangerous or require a secondary surgery for removal. Our website has more on what to do if you’re a victim of a surgical error.