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The premier resource for hospital professionals from Relias Media, the trusted source for healthcare information and continuing education.

Veteran Leaves His Kidney at Hospital, but Picks Up 2 Towels in its Place

A veteran went in for kidney surgery. According to The Sacramento Bee, A kidney was removed, but something else got left in. Two somethings, to be specific: large surgical lap pads.

As you might expect, the patient became very sick over the next two months as he developed an abscess. Eventually he had to be hospitalized. A CT scan finally revealed the culprit.

The patient had surgery to remove the towels three months after his initial procedure. However, the surgeries left him with an incisional hernia, which meant he had to undergo a third surgery. He couldn’t go back to his job as a truck driver for more than a year. The hospital just settled the lawsuit for $275,000.

According to stats from the annual Hospital and Physician Professional Liability Benchmark Analysis, one out of every four claims and a quarter of hospital professional liability costs are associated with five healthcare-acquired conditions, and one of those conditions is objects left after surgery. The other four? Healthcare-acquired infections, healthcare-acquired injuries, medication errors, and pressure ulcers. Forty-six percent of all non-zero closed claims involve a lawsuit, and 17% of lawsuits go to trial, the analysis says.

The veteran reported that he was told that leaving one surgical towel inside a patient was “ridiculous, but two is atrocious." I agree, especially considering that the use of a simple surgical checklist could have prevented such a “never event.” The hospital didn’t even have to come up with one itself. WHO and all have one. And so do multiple hospitals across the country. Those are the one that aren’t being sued for leaving two towels inside a patient.