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Retained Objects from Surgeries

Johnson City Medical Malpractice Attorneys

Lawyers at the Haynes Firm have handled a variety of cases involving the failure to remove surgical items used in surgery from the patient’s body prior to closing. Retained surgical items are considered medical error and have the potential to cause grave consequences for the patient.

The most common retained objects from surgery are sponges or pads used in a variety of applications during surgery. While sponges can be small and difficult to keep up with in a messy surgery, medical professional nonetheless must be vigilant to ensure that any sponge that goes in, comes out. While sponges are the most common item left in patients, incredibly, other items such as hemostats, tubing, needles, and other items have been left in patients. Retained surgical items can cause death, physical and emotional harm, and long-term complications.

According to the Joint Commission’s sentinel event database, the most common causes of these incidents are:

  • Absence of policies and procedures
  • Failure to comply with existing policies and procedures
  • Problems with hierarchy and intimidation
  • Failure in communication with Physicians
  • Failure of staff to communicate relevant patient information
  • Inadequate or incomplete education of staff [1]

Proving Negligence in Your Case

Most people would assume that these are “open and shut” cases. And it is true that proving negligence in cases involving retained surgical items is usually much easier than in most malpractice cases. But sometimes it can be difficult to prove the injury the patient experienced was a result of the retained item as opposed to an underlying issue or other non-negligent cause. And Tennessee Healthcare liability laws really require the use of one or more experts to prove a violation of the standard of care and any injuries suffered as a result.

Our lawyers have extensive experience in prosecuting cases involving injuries to patients from retained surgical items. As with other malpractice cases, you should choose an attorney with extensive experience in handling malpractice cases to handle your retained surgical item case.


If you or a loved one has been injured due to another’s a retained surgical item or another form of negligent care, do not wait to contact an attorney. You have a very limited time in Tennessee within which to initiate a case. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your case, contact The Haynes Firm immediately. (423).829.2638

[1] Joint Commission Sentinel Event Alert, Issue 51, October 17, 2013.

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