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Why are so many surgical tools being left in patients?

A startling report from a health care safety nonprofit might be of interest readers. The study, recently released by a group known as The Association, revealed that nearly 800 surgical tools have been left in patients nationwide since 2005. Sponges, towels and needles are among the items that remained in patients after an operation was completed.

Researchers note that these surgical errors can be very painful -- and even deadly -- for victims. In many cases, patients are required to undergo additional medical procedures to try and reverse the effects of the medical mistakes. These patients are probably reluctant to undergo subsequent operations as the result of a preventable medical issue.

Many may be wondering why this is happening so frequently. In short, the most common reasons are because hospitals do not have proper policies in place to prevent surgical tools from being left in patients or physicians simply ignore established procedures. This is why The Association has recommended that simple and effective measures are installed to prevent these mistakes.

In order to best prevent the mistakes, it can also be helpful to under the circumstances behind the medical errors. In a number, surgical tools are left behind during an emergency operation. Even though performing surgery in the context of a medical emergency certainly isn't optimal, doctors still shouldn't cut corners when providing care.

Undergoing surgery often requires a lot of trust. Patients might be afraid of going through a procedure, but they do so based on the idea their doctor has the skills necessary to complete an operation according to plan. Making preventable mistakes during surgery is a breach of this trust.

Source: CBS News, "Nearly 800 surgical tools left in patients since 2005: Report," Ryan Jaslow, Oct. 18, 2013

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