When a 54-year-old Vietnamese man had a stomach ache and sought medical care, little did he suspect that an x-ray would find that the cause of his problems was surgical forceps that were apparently left in his abdomen near his colon during emergency surgery that he had eighteen years earlier following a traffic accident.
The man had to have a three-hour surgery to remove the forceps, which were in the process of deteriorating over the extended period of time that it had remained within his body.
The six-inch long surgical forceps were used by the surgeon in 1998 but were not removed when the procedure was completed. A search is underway to find the surgeon.
The man reportedly had some occasion pain and discomfort over the years and was given medication for a stomach ulcer but no one suspected or discovered the real cause of his medical problems until late last year.
Medical errors in Vietnam are not uncommon: three men were diagnosed as being pregnant and two patients had the wrong limbs removed during the past three years.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) considers “Unintended retention of a foreign object in a patient after surgery or other procedure” as a “Never Event,” for which it will not pay for additional costs associated with the incident.
According to the National Quality Forum (NQF), “never events” are errors in medical care that are clearly identifiable, preventable, and serious in their consequences for patients, and that indicate a real problem in the safety and credibility of a health care facility. A study concluded that “never events” add significantly to Medicare hospital payments, ranging from an average of an additional $700 per case to treat decubitus ulcers to $9,000 per case to treat postoperative sepsis. Another study, reviewing 18 types of medical events, concluded that medical errors may account for 2.4 million extra hospital days, $9.3 billion in excess charges (for all payers), and 32,600 deaths.
To be included on NQF’s list of “never events”, an event had to have been characterized as:
- Unambiguous—clearly identifiable and measurable, and thus feasible to include in a reporting system;
- Usually preventable—recognizing that some events are not always avoidable, given the complexity of health care;
- Serious—resulting in death or loss of a body part, disability, or more than transient loss of a body function; and
- Any of the following:
- Adverse and/or,
- Indicative of a problem in a health care facility’s safety systems and/or,
- Important for public credibility or public accountability.
If you or a family member may have been harmed as a result of a foreign object left behind after a medical procedure in any U.S. state, you should promptly consult with a local medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your foreign object medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a foreign object medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
Click here to visit our website or telephone us on our toll-free line in the United States at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may assist you with your foreign object medical malpractice claim.
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