TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Foreign Objects Left in Patients

Leaving a scalpel in a patient is a common fact pattern for res ipsa loquitur, and it is in the news.  Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, wrote several letters to VA leaders on Tuesday demanding answers for "allegations of appalling medical malpractice."  One memorable case included a surgeon who allegedly admitted leaving a 5-inch scalpel in a patient's abdomen, where it remained for approximately 4 years.  The Hartford Courant has the story, and reports:

A study of 100 health care organizations from 2011-12 found 428 incidents of items mistakenly left inside patients, including 128 sponges, 43 needles, 171 instrument fragments, 77 whole instruments and 9 towels.

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