Objects Left Inside Patients: St. Paul and Minneapolis Medical Malpractice

When Doctors Leave Tools Inside of a Patient, it is Minnesota Medical Malpractice


It may sound like a horror story from a movie or novel, but foreign objects like tools, sponges, and other objects are left inside patients after a surgery.  In fact, according to a study by John Hopkins Medicine, a foreign object is left inside of a patient approximately 39 times each week, which is over 2,000 times a year.  This number is staggering considering the advances in medicine, but it is also scary because foreign objects left inside of patients after a surgery can become deadly very quickly.


Types of Foreign Objects Commonly Left Behind


A foreign object left behind in a patient is any object that is not intended to have been left behind.  This sounds obvious at first, but it generally means that a foreign object does not include objects like broken needles or screws which were intentionally placed but broke.  Rather, a foreign object is an object that was inadvertently left inside a patient.  This includes some of the following objects:


  • Surgical towels;
  • Surgical tools like screwdrivers, forceps, and even scalpels;
  • Sponges or pads meant to absorb blood;
  • Gloves;
  • Objects used to hold open the incision such as clips or wires;
  • Excess stitches or staples not used to close a wound but not removed;
  • Ports or stents used to keep a wound open for viewing; and
  • Many other types of objects.


Liability in Foreign Object Cases in Minnesota


When a foreign object is left inside of a patient during a Minnesota surgery, there are two general ways to prove liability as a victim of this type of medical malpractice.  The first is under a pure common law approach to negligence where the surgeon had a duty to take all objects out of you after a surgery, the surgeon failed to do so, and you were injured but the surgeon’s failure.  This is a pure negligence cause of action.


The second way to establish liability in a medical malpractice case involving foreign objects is through the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur.  This theory translates to “the thing speaks for it self,” meaning that the negligence that occurred speaks for itself.  In order to be successful, a victim must prove that the victim did not contribute to the injury, that the surgeon had exclusive control over the instrumentality and event which caused the malpractice, and that the event does not occur in the presence of negligence.


This can be easy to prove in most surgeries.  For instance, when a foreign object is left inside of a patient during a surgery the patient is anesthetized and does not contribute to the injury.  The surgeon and surgical team are in exclusive control of the objects during the surgery and the patient’s body, which proves the second element.  And the third element is satisfied because foreign objects left inside of patients are known as “never events” and should never occur unless a doctor is negligence.


Therefore, a victim of Minnesota medical malpractice can rely on either the pure common law approach or on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur to prove his or her personal injury lawsuit.


Objects Left Inside of Patients Can be Minnesota Medical Malpractice


If you or a loved one have been injured due to the medical malpractice of a healthcare provider such as a doctor, nurse, hospital, or other health care service professional, call Kuhlman Law, LLC for a FREE consultation by dialing (612) 444-3374 to learn what your rights to compensation may be.  You may also contact us using our easy and convenient “contact us” box at the bottom of our website.  If we accept your case, we will conduct a thorough review of your case and advise you whether there may have been a serious medical mistake causing your injury.   There is no risk, and you do not owe us money unless we win your case.

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