Hospitalsuse different methods of accounting for equipment used during surgery. Surgicalsponges are cloth pads that are used in surgeries to absorb bodily fluidsduring surgery.
Different hospitals use different methods to account for thesponges that are placed in the body to make sure that all of the sponges areremoved prior to concluding the surgery. That responsibility belongs to themedical facility where the procedure is being performed and its employees, and theattending nurses. The key to makingsure no surgical instruments are left behind in the patient body is to keep acount of what surgical items are used and where each one ends up.Thecommon practice to account for sponges is counting how many sponges are presentbefore the case starts, count many sponges are being placed inside the body andcount how many they have remaining after the procedure is over. Anotherway of accounting for lost sponges is to use a sponge with radio-opaquematerial and take an x-ray after the case is over to ensure that there are nosponges left within the body. Stryker is a company that manufacture sponges witha barcode embeds inside making it easier tokeep track of how many sponges are being used and whether any have been leftbehind. In this case none of these methods wasexercised correctly.Most errors in healthcare are due tohuman factors.
“It’s like aviation -if you don’t do these checks, there canbe human errors that happen. That’s why we put these standard practices inplace. You follow the same process every single time, because then you can say,’we never, ever vary from this practice.'(Damages from left-behind surgical tools top billions as systems seek endto gruesome errors. (n.d.). In this case of the forgotten sponge it canbe argued that the nurse assisting with the surgical procedure at BellaHospital did not follow proper accounting method to account for thelost sponge.
Whathappen when a surgical sponge is left in the body? A retained surgical spongeis known as gossypiboma, it can cause pain, infection, abscess, intestinalobstruction or fistula. They canbe life threatening and usually results in further surgeries and treatments. Studies estimate that a lost surgicalsponge happens once in every 5,500 to 7,000 surgeries; there were 51.4million in-patient procedures performed in 2010, according to theNational Center for Health Statistics (Bernstein 2014).Leaving a surgical instrument in a patient’s body may besurgical malpractice that can result in serious harm to a patient. We nowknow that retention has very little to do with patient characteristics andeverything to do with operating room culture (IndianapolisRetained Surgical Instruments Lawyers.
(n.d.). Retained surgical items are medical errors that have thepotential to cause significant harm to the patient and carry major consequencesto physicians and hospitals.The potential for a lawsuit is always present when the publicrelies on any organization for care.
The health care professionals are veryfamiliar with the claims of liability and must prepare for the moments whenthings go wrong and plan for the worst case scenarios. The law states that anyorganization that the public relies on for its safety has a duty to exerciseordinary care to prevent injury (Dunn 2016). Liabilityis always imposed on the organization resulting in patient injuries andnegligent care.
Medical professionals have a duty to meet a recognized standardof care. When they fail to live up to their duty, patients and their familieshave a right to seek monetary damages.Negligenceis the action or non-action that results in injury by an individual who is notacting as a reasonable prudent person would under the same circumstances (Dunn2016).The hospital has the legal duty toprovide each patient with reasonable safe condition, trained and skilledstaffs, adequate equipment and to administer proper medication. If they fail tofulfil those duties to the patient they could be found negligent.
The nurse didnot follow the organization police and procedures thus leading to injury to thepatient. In this case of theforgotten sponge the nurse can be held liable and a claimof negligence against the hospital due to her action. In terms of this nurse the institution isnot only responsible for its action in relations the patient but it is alsoindirectly liable for the patient injuries caused by its employee.
Hospitalscan be held liable for their own negligence, and they can also be held liablefor the negligence oftheir employees. When a patient injuries and caused by a hospitalemployee, the hospital may be held liableunder the legal doctrine of respondeat superior. Under respondeat superior the institution (employer) islegally responsible for the negligent or wrongful act or omission of theemployee even though the facility itself committed no wrong (Dunn2016).The hospital is liable because they have the right to control the action of theemployees that includes the manner of how work is performed, duties and method.
Bella Hospital is responsible due the nurse committing a negligent act because the nurse was acting within the scopeand course of employment and acting on behalf of the institution. In2007, the Centers for Medicare and MedicaidServices estimated theaverage price of removing one of these items at $63,631 per hospital stay, andlarger settlements in lawsuits can run from $2 million to $5 million (Bernstein 2014). Because of the post-surgical retained itemsare so preventable, the National Quality Forum has listed retained surgicalitems as a completely preventable error that should never happen.As a manager I can view this as anopportunity for improvement on policies and procedures by implementing new waysto account for equipment used during surgery. We must implement a standardize way of counting which is done every time, forevery patient, in every procedure, and also how well those counts aredocumented and tracked. Thosecounts could be made accurate by using a wand that would detect the radiofrequency that is stored inside of the sponges,supplementing the manual counting procedures. This would eliminate human error when counting. The managementmandate teammeetings as a standard part of the surgical procedure to allow any team memberto express concerns they have with the patient care, how well they follow implementedpolices and any unsafe act in the operating room.
As a manager we have to befamiliar with every aspect of our jobs that could result in legal issues. Wehave to be compliant with the have polices and procedure that we have in place andreport deficiencies as they pop up. Retainedsurgical instruments in patients should never happen. With that being said any surgicalprocedure is susceptible to human error. In the case of a retained spongeproper counting/accounting procedure was not followed by the surgical staff.
Theirerror could lead to a claim of negligence, malpractice against the hospital. NewTechnology can ensure that patients won’t be sewn up with a sponge left insideof them. Even with the emergent of such technology many hospitals and surgical centers have failedto adopt the readily available technologies that could eliminate the risk ofleaving sponges in patients. Retained-spongeprevention technology should be a standard protocol on every surgical procedure.
Hospital will continue to have lawsuits following thediscovery of foreign objects within patients if they don’t adopt preventiveprotocols and carefully follow them. Reference