It is not uncommon for sponges to be left in the body after surgery. In fact, this is the most common type of surgical error. It is so common that it has a name, gossypiboma. The name gossypiboma comes from the Latin word for cotton, gossypium, and the Swahili word for hidden, boma. Another name for gossypiboma is textilioma.
During surgery, doctors use gauze sponges to control bleeding and mop up fluids around the surgery site. Nurses are supposed to count the number of sponges brought into the operating room and make sure that each sponge is accounted for at the end of surgery. But it isn’t always so simple.
If there a lot of bleeding, doctors may request extra sponges. These may go uncounted and it’s not unlikely that a sponge will end up closed inside the body at the end of surgery.
In rare cases, the sponge causes immediate problems and is detected and removed. Usually, the sponge sits in its hiding place for months, or even years, without causing any complications. Then, at some point, the patient begins to suffer from pain. At first, doctors can’t explain the pain. The patient may be told it is in his or her head, or diagnosed with a stomach bug. But, when the pain worsens and other symptoms or signs of infection arise, a CT scan may detect the sponge. Retained surgical sponges often cause:
- Weight loss
- Intense pain
- Internal scarring
- Bowel obstruction
- Fistula in the bowels
- Erosion of the intestinal wall
Retained sponges can cause significant permanent injuries to the patient.
Gossypiboma is the most common surgical error in Texas and in the U.S. But, it is completely preventable. Many hospitals use sponges that have radio frequency tags. After surgery, the nurse waves a detection wand over the patient’s body. If there is a retained sponge, an alarm will sound.
If you are suffering from gossypiboma, you have the right to seek compensation for your pain, suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, and any permanent injury or scarring.
If you would like more information about Texas surgical mistake lawsuits and your legal rights, please request a free copy of Dallas medical malpractice attorney Jeff Rasansky’s book, The Epidemic of Medical Mistakes & Understanding Your Rights, or contact the Rasansky Law Firm at 1-877-405-4313 and ask to schedule a free legal consultation.