“Retained surgical sponge” is the technical term used when a surgeon accidentally leaves a gauze-like sponge inside a patient after a surgical procedure.
It’s called a “never event” because it’s one of those things that is totally preventable and therefore never supposed to happen. And yet, these types of medical errors are noted all the time. The actual true incidence of retained surgical items – including sponges – isn’t known. However, there are two large-scale studies that put it somewhere between 1 in 5,500 operations and 1 in 6,975. That may not sound like much, but there are millions of surgical procedures conducted annually, and the average liability in these cases is about $473,022, according to the Risk Management Foundation of the Harvard Medical Institutions, Inc.
In the recent case of Cefaratti v. Aranow, the issue was whether a woman who suffered injury as a result of a retained surgical sponge that was left inside her following a gastric bypass surgery. The issue was whether she could pursue legal action against the allegedly negligent doctor, from whom she also received follow-up treatment once the sponge was discovered years later, despite it seeming apparent the statute of limitations for medical negligence had passed. Continue reading