There is no doubt this would be traumatic and it is potentially deadly. Medical professionals have very strict requirements when it comes to surgery and the instruments used and other necessary items like sponges – they all need to be counted in and out. No instrument should be left inside you.
The risk of post-surgical complications skyrockets when something like this happens. The risks are infection, further surgical procedures, pain, healing complications, and psychological injury. Check out this link to some background information on surgical instruments being left inside patients. It is an all too prevalent medical mistake. However, while this is a real problem and it is a mistake. It may or may not fit the legal requirements for medical negligence.
Medical negligence requires:
- A breach of duty of care (liability).
- An injury caused by the breach of the duty of care (causation).
- You to be in a worse position than if the surgical implement has not been left in you (damage). For example you suffer a psychological injury, infections, and further surgical procedures.
Let’s just say if a surgical instrument is left inside you someone did something wrong and may not be difficult proving the breach of duty of care. However, evidence will be needed. By way of antidote, to help explain this comment many years ago I heard of a case where a young man had to undergo a surgical procedure and it all went well. However, for some reason after the surgical procedure he developed a psychological injury. He truly believed there was a surgical implement inside him – there was not.
The best way to find out if an instrument has been left inside is with an x-ray or other medical imaging. You can also obtain a copy of your medical records under Freedom of Information. If you have undergone a surgical procedure there should be a checklist in your medical records counting instruments before and after the surgery.
The substantial issues in a case where a surgical implement is left inside a patient will probably arise in relation to causation and damages. To get these questions answered follow this link to my profile and contact information. We can then talk about your particular circumstances. You should do this in a timely manner as there are strict time limit issues when it comes to medical negligence claims (link to time limits article).
Here is a bit more information on surgical counts and the strict requirements on medical professionals in undertaking this task.