Camera left inside patient

December 10, 2007 § 1 Comment

X-ray of scissors left inside patientAccording to ScienceDaily surgical objects are left inside about 1500 patients in the US every year, leading to pain, infections and other serious complications.

This issue is something I’ve often thought about when I’m in an OR. It’s always fascinating to watch the surgical nurses maintaining the count of instruments, sponges and other stuff. Making sure everything is outside the patient before the wound is closed.

The ScienceDaily article states that about two-thirds of the objects accidentally left inside people are surgical sponges. They’re used, amongst other things, to absorb blood and are hard to distinguish from tissue when they’re all red with blood.

The Old Grey Nurse Test
A surgical nurse told me a story once, about a senior surgeon who liked to test the nurses now and then. At the end of the operation he’d let a sponge fall to the floor and hide it under his shoe. If the nurses didn’t miss the sponge when counting he’d reveal the sponge after suturing up, saying “there seems to be an extra sponge present”. Which of course made the responsible nurse red with embarrassment. She’d probably count an extra time for the rest of her career.

Camera left inside?
So have I ever left a camera inside a patient? I have to disappoint you. Thankfully my cameras are quite big and bulky compared to surgical instruments. And they’re not that hard to distinguish from human tissue.

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§ One Response to Camera left inside patient

  • dokidok says:

    I have been doing orthopedic surgery for 2 years and yes, I can tell that it is not that uncommon to discover that the missing surgical objects is inside the patient, and…the patient is not in OR anymore. Actually it happend to our team only once and it was “just” a gauze, which is not visible on x-ray…Anyway, it was close to the surface of the surgical wound, and easy to be removed without that much problems.

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