In the operating room there are safety procedures, such as counting the sponges and instruments before and after the operation. If these procedures were not in place, many more errors would occur, Abdullah added.
After surgery, patients who have a foreign body left inside them often develop punctures, lacerations, infection, fever and pain. An image of the area will reveal the object, and surgeons must perform another operation to remove it.
All this adds considerable time and money, Abdullah noted.
For children who had objects left in them, hospital stays increased from an average of three days to a week. Moreover, average costs soared from $40,502 to $89,415, the researchers found.
"From a health care system's perspective, we need to be more focused on this issue, and we need to be putting in additional safety measures and additions to our procedures and protocols to prevent these events from happening," Abdullah said.
Commenting on the study, Dr. Juan E. Sola, chief of the division of pediatric and adolescent surgery and an associate professor of surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said that "any incident above zero is something we need to address."
However, overall, these events are few and far between, he noted.
Sola noted that new systems involve bar-coding every instrument and sponge. Scanning the code after they are removed insures that no objects are left behind, because a computer is keeping track of all the instruments and sponges used, he explained.
"Technology will eliminate a lot of these human errors," Sola said.
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