This is topic Weird Malpractice in forum Books, Films, Food and Culture at Hatrack River Forum.

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Posted by Icarus (Member # 3162) on :
Surgeons Forget Towel Inside Patient

I suppose it really is no laughing matter, but . . .


What malpractice cases have made you laugh?
Posted by mackillian (Member # 586) on :
Posted by Hobbes (Member # 433) on :
I'm not sure a malpractice suit has ever made me laugh but that sure is an appropriate smilie!

Hobbes [Smile]
Posted by MaureenJanay (Member # 2935) on :
At least it wasn't a junior mint.
Posted by Snarky (Member # 4406) on :
This past week, surgeons almost left a sponge in my aunt. They were starting to stitch her up when they realized they were short a sponge. My mom said she was in surgery for seven hours. At least they caught it and fixed it as soon as possible, instead of just saying, "Oh well. She can live with a foreign object in her body."
Posted by MrSquicky (Member # 1802) on :
I once had a dentist fall asleep with giving me the nitrus. I laughed harder than I have in my whole life. And the only cost was a few million brain cells. Man, even thinking back on it gives me a great big ... dinosaur ... no, that's not the word ... fishstick ... angry nun ... no, wait, gipple. Yeah, that's it. I just get to gippling.

[ October 09, 2003, 11:43 PM: Message edited by: MrSquicky ]
Posted by Icarus (Member # 3162) on :
Posted by Taberah (Member # 4014) on :
Actually, I think it can be a pretty serious problem to have surgeons leave a sponge in you. They have to carefully count the number they put in and the number they take out, because major surgery can require quite a number of sponges to sop up blood. I suppose that one of our resident doctors should clarify this--I'm basing my statements on vague memories of something I read.
Posted by Laurenz0 (Member # 5336) on :
Well, law suits were created for a reason. Now would be an appropriate time.
Posted by porcelain girl (Member # 1080) on :
you are right, taberah. there have been instances of people developing bad infections and dying.
Posted by Jexxster (Member # 5293) on :
That should never, ever happen.

From my experience anything that could possibly be left in a body is (or at least should be) carefully counted and documented numerous times during the course of surgery. Every sponge opened, every sharp (needle, suture, blade) is counted as it is opened, then accounted for and disposed of before the surgical site is closed. I have had to dig through messy, bloody garbage cans to help the nurse/scrub tech find a missing sponge to make sure it wasn't in someone.

Again, that should simply never happen.
Posted by msquared (Member # 4484) on :
And doctors are Gods who never make mistakes, and God forbid that they should ever make one, we should sue them for millions and millions of dollars so that they will never make that mistake ever again.

Posted by mackillian (Member # 586) on :
There are docs who make an honest mistake.

There are docs who really don't give a crap.

Some docs can be totally irresponsible.

It's up to some people to pick out which it is. Did a doc not pay attention to some obvious symptoms? Were all the tests not run? (in terms of symptoms presented).

Leaving something in after surgery could cause massive infection, which could lead to death.

Have to run. More later. [Smile]
Posted by Jexxster (Member # 5293) on :
But, in a case such as this, there are several checks put in place according to standard policy and procedure to prevent this exact type of mistake from happening. Sure, the doctor can make a mistake, they are human. But in even the most simple surgical procedure there should be at least 3 people besides the surgeon checking these things to prevent this from happening (anesthesiologist/CRNA, scrub tech, and the OR nurse).

So is it really excusable to have 4 people (at least, as many surgeries will have 2 or more scrub techs, or additional MDs involved) fail to do an accurate count of the sponges/sharps? Me, I don't think so, and in a few years when I start practicing medicine I don't think my opinion will change.

Edit: Spellmonkey

[ October 10, 2003, 09:47 AM: Message edited by: Jexxster ]
Posted by Icarus (Member # 3162) on :
And in this case, they disovered that they had left a towel in, and they did nothing about it beause they did not want to admit their mistake.

That goes beyond making a mistake.
Posted by Jexxster (Member # 5293) on :
Just further clarification on what the policy and procedure (in the OR I worked in at least) are and why a "mistake" such as this is certainly at least negligence.

First off, any sponges that enter the surgical site are required, by policy, to be radiopaque (ie. they will show up as nice big white spots in an X-Ray). If, at the end of a case sharps or sponges absolutely cannot be accounted for and X-Ray is ordered immediately upon entering the recovery room to ensure that it didn't get left in the surgical site. So to miss something like that really requires multiple levels of negligence, not just a lone mistake.
Posted by Dan_raven (Member # 3383) on :
I have a friend who was in the army. He claims the following--though I have no proof:

1) The fees paid to army medical personell are well below that paid to civillian. This means that only the most patriotic people, or those unable or unqualified to work in the civilian field, become army doctors.

2) While there are many that are the most patriotic, there are far to many who just join the Army Medical Corp because civilian hospitals kicked them out.

3) And those to dangerous to work on active troops needed by the army, are sent to work in the VA, where they are no longer a threat to our national security.

This is how we honor those who have risked their lives, and in many cases have been permanetly wounded, on behalf of our country.

Then again, this same friend has taken a job,now that he's out of the army, working for he VA.
Posted by MaureenJanay (Member # 2935) on :
We lost our grandpa in the VA. He was horribly sick for months. No food stayed down, and he couldn't handle the IV's, so he basically died of malnutrition. Through this, all they did was up his dosages of Prednizone. They didn't really know what he had. After he died, it was determined that he was lactose intolerant. Had they just designed his diet for that, he could have lived much longer. They also didn't notice the large tumor that was taking over his whole stomach. They basically admitted him, hooked him up, and let him die. No one ever did any kind of tests for anything other than the stuff we already knew he didn't have. He received horrible care. It was terrible, because all of our Gma's friends kept begging her to have him put in a non-govt. hospital, but she was so upset and confused that she didn't know what to do, and the doctors kept giving her the go-around. It was a terrible time, and I'll never forget that the doctors let several diseases slip by. He was dying, and they kept on doing what they were doing. A couple of routine tests and they could have found information that would have saved his life.

The autopsy was amazing. How could all those things have gotten past CARING doctors? My guess is that they didn't get by caring doctors at all. [Frown]
Posted by Bob_Scopatz (Member # 1227) on :
I worked as an orderly in the O.R. in a hospital in Los Angeles. Sponge counts are a must. The instruments are also all counted. I don't remember counting TOWELS though. They would seem to be rather large and hard to miss, but maybe bunched up and soaked with blood they could blend in pretty well. Hmm...

I do recall one surgery where they called in the x-ray tech before closing because they couldn't find something. I think it ended up stuck to one of the surgeon's gowns or something like that, but they did the count BEFORE they closed and they waited until they were sure it wasn't in the patient.
Posted by Icarus (Member # 3162) on :
OMG, MaureenJanay, I know somebody whose father died the exact same way! He couldn't keep any food down, and he starved to death in a VA hospital, all the while with the doctors saying it was purely psychological and he could eat if he wanted to!

[Wall Bash]
::vomiting smiley::
Posted by MaureenJanay (Member # 2935) on :
Yeah, our doctors said somethng similar, along the lines of, "He's close to the end, his body doesn't want any food because he's about to die."

But I SWEAR that man tried to eat everyday until just before he died. Usually, when people get close to dying, they don't WANT to eat, it's not that they can't. He tried. [Frown] I'm so sad about the last year of his life. There was no medical person on his side, it seemed. He kept getting the wrong medications, and he would have to point it out to the nurses who were trying to force it into him. Bad times.
Posted by Icarus (Member # 3162) on :

How long ago was this? The man I'm talking about died around fifteen years ago.
Posted by MaureenJanay (Member # 2935) on :
This was a year ago. But we still feel it everyday. My grandma cries everyday...just for a second, but it kills me everytime.
Posted by wieczorek (Member # 5565) on :
At least it wasn't a junior mint.
I can appreciate Seinfield (why is it spelled that way? I wish I could go around saying, "sane-feeld" without people thinking I was dillusional). [Wink]
Posted by MaureenJanay (Member # 2935) on :
I'm glad you said that. I was beginning to lose hope in this group.
Posted by ana kata (Member # 5666) on :
Yeah, I've stayed out of this thread because it's too painful for me. I don't even want to go into the story of my father. And I can't see weird offbeat malpractice stories as funny, because of that. It's too real. There was a study just out that showed how many people get killed by mistakes in hospitals. Not even stupid inability to figure out what's wrong but just ooopsie type accidents. Having worked in hospitals for a long time I already knew that. You need someone who loves and cares about the patient to be there hopefully 24/7 if you can possibly manage it. They need to ask everything, to know all treatment that's happening, and what it is hoped it will accomplish. They need to understand all tests that are ordered and what it is hoped they will indicate. They need to check all IV bags to be sure they're labeled for the correct patient, for instance. To understand the purpose of all devices (like the anti-blood-clot leg cuffs) and the meaning of all the readings (like the O2 saturations). In this way you might prevent your loved one from dying. Or not. They nearly killed my dad in spite of all we could do. I don't even want to talk about it.
Posted by JonnyNotSoBravo (Member # 5715) on :
Finding out how many people died from malpractice each year is one of Ralph Nader's claims to fame. That and telling everyone how unsafe some cars were.

The one malpractice case that always springs up in my mind is the one in FL where they amputated the wrong foot.

My dad (retired USAF officer)always said that when he got too old and if nursing homes got too expensive we should pour some ketchup on him and dump him off in front of the VA hospital. Obviously, he has a lot of respect for them. [Wink]
Posted by Megachirops (Member # 4325) on :

I was insentitive.


I'm sorry, Anne Kate (et. al.).

Posted by ana kata (Member # 5666) on :
Oh, I'm sorry, Icky! No, how could you know? I don't mean that the world should tiptoe around all the things that I might find painful. <<<<Icky>>>>

I just wish there was something we could do about the problem, but I can't think of anything except for doctors to realize what's happening and put their collective feet down and refuse to provide care at all unless they are listened to about how it should be carried out. Doctors have the power to make it right, if they would only use it. I can understand their reluctance because the power they have is to refuse to treat people, and that's definitely going to cause harm to some people who get caught in between while the stuff is being resolved. It would help later patients immeasurably, though, and so I believe it should be done, but I can understand why they aren't willing to do it.
Posted by Theca (Member # 1629) on :
I'm not following. Doctors have the power to make what right?

And refusing to treat patients is a lot more complicated than you might think. There are rules on how to sever the relationship or the doctor can be sued for that, too. And if every doctor collectively made that decision at the same time, then the rules on severing the relationship couldn't be followed, as the patient could not be referred elsewhere for care (which is one of the rules), so in essence that just wouldn't work. Doctors have a lot less power than they think they have.

Oh, and I have met some good VA doctors and seen some good VA clinics. I've heard horror stories too, but don't know any stories personally. The Roudebush VA in Indianapolis has very well run clinics, and a computer system that helps to keep things from getting missed. The internal medicine residency program does a great job with the admitted patients. The benefits are great for the doctors and nurses and other staff who work at VA hospitals and the hours are decent. I considered getting a VA job for awhile. Considering how overworked the civilian VA docs have been after more military docs got transferred overseas the past two years, I am glad now I didn't choose a VA job.

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