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Florida Medical Malpractice & Retained Foreign Objects During Surgery

Any person who is preparing to go under the knife for a surgical procedure is understandably anxious about many things that could possibly go wrong. The good news is that many surgeries in Florida are successfully completed without any dire complications.

Even when patients leave hospitals without any major issues after surgeries, it may be discovered later on that a sponge or gauze or some other surgical item was unknowingly left inside the patient. This kind of mistake occurs at an astonishing rate and the consequences are extremely serious—possibly even fatal—for patients.

Melbourne Florida Lawyer for Retained Foreign Bodies After Surgery

Did you or your loved one have some kind of foreign object left inside you following a surgical procedure in Central Florida? You could be entitled to compensation for the pain and discomfort this error has caused you or your loved one.

The Law Offices of James B. Coulter helps clients throughout Brevard County as well as surrounding areas in Indian River County, Orange County, Osceola County, Seminole County, and Volusia County.

Melbourne attorney James Coulter can review your case and help you understand your legal options. Call (321) 586-9944 or send us an online message today to schedule a free initial consultation.

Florida Retained Foreign Objects During Surgery Overview

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Types of Retained Surgical Instruments that are found in Florida Medical Malpractice Cases

Items left inside patients are commonly called unintended retention of foreign objects (URFOs), but they are also referred to as retained surgical items (RSIs). Medical professionals typically do multiple counts of the surgical items they are working with in order to avoid leaving a URFO or RSI inside a patient.

Whether it is miscommunication or additional surgical tools being required during surgery, a patient will occasionally end up with a foreign body left inside him or her. Some of the types of items that may be inadvertently left inside a patient include, but are not limited to:

  • Blades;
  • Broken parts of instruments;
  • Catheters;
  • Clamps;
  • Clips;
  • Cotton swabs;
  • Gauze;
  • Other instruments or device components;
  • Needles;
  • Other small items;
  • Parts of laparoscopic trocars;
  • Pins;
  • Retractors;
  • Scissors;
  • Sponges;
  • Stapler parts; or
  • Towels.

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Causes of Foreign Objects Retained During Surgery

Every surgery is different, but some of the reasons that RFIs or URFOs get left inside patients are fairly common. The hospital and/or surgeon could be liable if a foreign body was left inside you or your loved one for any of the following reasons:

  • Emergency surgeries with significant time pressures;
  • Failure to comply with the establishment policies;
  • Inadequate training;
  • No staff policies in place to avoid URFOs or RSIs;
  • Poor communication among staff;
  • Surgery required significant number of instruments; or
  • Unanticipated procedures during surgery.

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Retained Surgical Items Symptoms

If a physician or staff member realizes that an object is missing from the count after surgery, the medical professionals will have to reopen the patient in order to retrieve the foreign body. In other cases, the staff does not realize that an object has been left inside the victim.

When a patient leaves the hospital unaware of the item left inside him or her, he or she may suffer later complications as a result of the error. Some of the types of pain or additional procedures that may occur or be required include, but are not limited to:

  • Additional surgeries;
  • Blood clots;
  • Blood vessel damage;
  • Chronic pain;
  • Fever;
  • Hospitalizations;
  • Infections;
  • Internal bleeding;
  • Other radiological procedures;
  • Nausea;
  • Nerve damage;
  • Organ damage;
  • Permanent scars;
  • Severe pain and suffering;
  • Wrongful death;
  • X-ray; or
  • X-ray computed tomography (X-ray CT) or computerized axial tomography scan (CAT scan).

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Florida Resources for Retained Foreign Objects During Surgery

Florida Statute § 766.102 — Medical Negligence; Standards of Recovery; Expert Witness — This is one of the Florida Statutes addressing negligence. Section 3(b) clearly states that “the discovery of the presence of a foreign body, such as a sponge, clamp, forceps, surgical needle, or other paraphernalia commonly used in surgical, examination, or diagnostic procedures, shall be prima facie evidence of negligence on the part of the health care provider.”

Pressure Ulcers Among Nursing Home Residents — The Joint Commission is an independent, nonprofit organization that accredits and certifies more than 20,500 health care organizations and programs in the United States. The mission of the Joint Commission is to “continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating healthcare organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value.” Read the October 17, 2013, publication covering URFOs and SRIs, touching on such topics as effective processes and procedures, effective communication, and appropriate documentation.

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Find a Retained Foreign Objects During Surgery Lawyer in Brevard County

If you or your loved one had a foreign body left inside you during a surgical procedure. You will likely be contacted very quickly by an insurance company with an agent or representative who may try to convince you that you do not need an attorney and you should accept a lump sum settlement.

James Coulter is a Melbourne personal injury lawyer who gained first-hand experience with the devious ways that these insurance companies operate after being injured in a commercial truck crash. He will aggressively pursue a fair judgment or settlement amount for you and your family, and he is not afraid to take a case to trial if necessary.

The Law Offices of James B. Coulter represents clients in various medical malpractice cases throughout greater Brevard County, including Cocoa Beach, Indian Harbour Beach, Lake Washington, Melbourne Beach, Mims, Palm Bay, Rockledge, Satellite Beach, Titusville, and Viera.

Our attorney represents clients on a contingency fee basis so you pay us nothing unless we get you a financial award, and we also offer a free, no obligation consultation to review your case when you call (321) 586-9944 or send us an online message right now.


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