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Foreign Object Retained After Surgery

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Foreign Object Retained After Surgery

Uchechukwu Atanmo

June 5, 2018


        The problem of foreign bodies retained after surgery is an issue that is usually experienced by surgeons in hospitals and the entire medical team. Retained surgical bodies (RSB) are surgical items that are left in the body of a patient after an operation. Such a situation arises where a surgeon leaves behind a foreign item in the body of the patient when sealing the surgical wound. This necessitates for another surgery to remove the foreign item. The repercussions of RSB may manifest in the patients immediately after completion of the surgical procedure or after a longer period. The risk of RSB is high in complex surgical procedures such as surgeries involving obese patients or trauma where numerous surgical tools are used to perform the procedure. The surgical procedures have been clearly outlined and systems have been put in place to enhance a safe surgery environment for the patient in a situation where the surgeon uses numerous tools such as sponges and retractors. However, the surgeons and the surgical systems employed are not impervious of human error which leads to RSB (Zejnullahu et al., 2017).

        Sponges are the most foreign surgical items that are left in human body after surgery. The incidence of sponges left in the body after surgery is high in cavities after abdominal surgery, pelvis and retroperitoneal. The sponges may remain in the body for days, months or even years before reactive inflammation manifests in the patient. Surgical items such as electrodes, clamps or drains can be left in a patient’s body after surgery in the abdominal cavity. With the increasing number of daily surgeries, the incidence of RSB in also high. Research indicates that the average cases of RSB in the United States are 1500 per year (Moffatt-Bruce et al., 2014).

        According to Stawicki et al. (2014), the main cause of foreign bodies retained after surgery is practitioners’ negligence since procedures and systems of performing a safe surgery have already been outlined in the surgical guidelines. Medical practitioners are required to conform to specific standards and guidelines when delivering care to ensure a positive care outcome of the patient. The situation of RSB is usually caused by the failure of the surgeons and surgical assistants’ failures to comply with the outlined procedures that focus on maintaining a safe surgical procedure. Operating rooms are usually busy especially when the surgeons are conducting a complex surgical procedure. The surgical team is usually comprised of many surgical professionals who switch roles at time intervals especially when performing a complex and long surgery procedure. The commotion caused by handing over of tasks during the procedure may at times lead to misunderstandings and confusion. Such confusion leads to the mistake of leaving surgical items in the wound. Additionally, items are likely to be left in the body of a patient after emergency situations during the surgery. Emergencies may lead to inclusion of surgery items that were not listed in the official list of the surgery tools. The surgical team might not realize the mistake after the surgery.

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