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Free consultation – (312) 236-2900

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Sponges, Tools, and Other Objects Left in Body

The prospect of undergoing surgery can be scary under the best of conditions. We’re told there are risks, even though they may be slight. We put ourselves in the hands of educated, experienced professionals whom we trust to minimize the risks and get it right. We expect when we recover from the pain and the incisions heal that we’ll be in better health than we were before the surgery.

Unfortunately, it’s an all-too-common mistake for an object to be left behind inside a patient’s body when a surgery is over. The human body isn’t built to accommodate foreign objects, and when one is left inside of you, there may be serious effects on your health.

You likely need additional surgery to have the object removed, and possibly more beyond that to repair any damage the object caused while inside your body. You’re already dealing with the trauma to your body from the first surgery, and now you’re experiencing new problems — and incurring more medical costs. You may be facing extended time away from your job, and you’re worried about how you’re going to pay the rent or the mortgage while you’re not working.

If you’re been injured by a foreign object left inside your body during a surgery, you may have a claim for medical malpractice. When your injuries are the result of medical negligence, you may be able to recover payment of your medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, disability and disfigurement, and loss of normal life.

An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can help you determine if you have a claim and the likelihood of receiving compensation for your injuries and other damages.

Common Objects Left Behind

When a surgery is performed, there may be a wide variety of supplies, tools, instruments, or other objects being used in the operating room. Many of them may be used in or near your body, and can fall inside or be left inside by mistake. Some common items that may be left inside a patient’s body include:

  • Sponges — These are typically made of a gauze-like material and are used to mop or soak up blood during a surgery.
  • Retractors — This is a type of surgical instrument usually made of steel that allows a surgeon to hold back the edges of a wound, incision, organs or tissues to reach body parts.
  • Clips and Clamps — Clips and clamps typically are made of metal and are used to compress tissue or blood vessels. Clamps commonly are used to stop veins and arteries from bleeding.
  • Forceps — Forceps are scissor-like metal tools used to grasp or hold parts of the body.
  • Scalpels or Blades — Sharp metal instruments used for cutting and slicing.
  • Needles — Needles are thin, sharp objects used to sew sutures or stitches.
  • Suction Tips — Suction tips are used to syphon blood or other fluid from the part of the body that is the focus of the surgery.


Leaving an object inside of a patient’s body is a completely preventable occurrence. If it happens, it is most likely the result of negligence by the surgeon or a member of the surgical team. That negligence may be caused by inattention when the surgeon, surgical nurse, or other member of the team just doesn’t notice that an object is still inside the patient or is missing from the instrument tray. However, even that kind of inattention can be corrected without harm to the patient if the surgical team follows a surgery checklist that includes accounting for all supplies and instruments used in the procedures.

Consequences of Foreign Objects in the Body

When a sponge, surgical tool, or other object remains inside a patient’s body after surgical incisions have been closed, there are a number of possible harmful complications. Those include:

  • Pain — When an object is inside your body that isn’t supposed to be, it’s natural that you’ll feel pain or discomfort, especially if the object is relatively large, sharp, or made of metal.
  • Infection — Infection is probably the most likely complication from a foreign object inside the body. If the object came into contact with any bacteria before entering your body, that bacteria can thrive and multiply inside the environment of your body. Infections inside your body can become very serious, very fast if not caught quickly. Infections can make a person extremely ill. They can be fatal in worst case scenarios.
  • Punctures and Perforations — Sharp instruments may puncture or perforate internal organs, blood vessels, or your bowels and cause internal bleeding and infection.
  • Obstruction — If an object becomes lodged inside the body, it can cause an obstruction that could block the flow of blood to your organs or tissues, which in turn could cause serious problems.
  • Infertility — Objects that remain after a gynecological surgery can cause damage that leads to infertility in women.
  • Death — If the damage or infection caused by the object is sever enough, the patient may die.

If you have been hurt in a surgical procedure where a foreign object was left in your body – or someone you love has been hurt – you may have a personal injury claim. Contact Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at (312) 236-2900 for a free consultation with one of our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers today.

if you’ve been hurt, staver can help.

Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. can help you manage the paperwork, insurance adjusters, and defense attorneys so you can focus on your health and getting the appropriate treatment. Please call us today for a free legal consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers.

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