Intermittently this issue make news where doctors have forgotten some surgical instruments like scissors, swabs, gauze pieces, sometimes towels inside the body after operation. And in all these cases the courts have almost always favoured the case of negligence. So knowing well that any such mistake will go under the negligence, why do they still make this mistake? Is it carelessness or can it be attributed to the unavoidable human error?
Many studies have been conducted to find out the reasons and to reduce it’s incidence. This issue is a worldwide phenomenon. According to US department of health, it’s incidence is anywhere between 1 in 100 to 1 in 5000. Human factors such as exhaustion, lack of tools necessary to aid in producing an accurate count, and a chaotic environment all have been seen to increase the risk of forgetting a tool.
In some messy surgeries where blood loss is a bit more, chances of losing a swab increases as it is difficult to remember how many swabs have been used. And after a long surgery they get totally blood stained ,sometimes making it difficult to differentiate them from the blood in small pockets.
A surgeon’s narrative of the surgery –“It’s a process that’s definitely subject to interruption and can be prone to errors. You’re doing a hundred other things at the same time, and as much as you try to keep your attention on it [sponge counts] if the surgeon needs something, it’s easy to get distracted.” Some aspects of surgery that can add to chaos are performing unforeseen changes in the procedure and undergoing emergency surgery. Consequently, the emergency room is the place most likely to make mistakes. Studies have shown that chances of forgetting instruments increases in obese patients. . These factors cannot be controlled and surgeons must learn to mitigate them.
According to the Institute of Medicine, “.” No doctor would ever want to get under negligence but still this happens. The problem is not bad people; the problem is that the system needs to be made safer.”
Various methods are being tried to reduce these incidences but no matter what, human error is unavoidable, it can only be reduced. A more managed operation room and a carefull effort by surgeons are the only foreseen solution to this unintentional, but a traumatic thing to both the doctors and the patients.
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This data changes rapidly, so what’s shown may be out of date. Table totals may not always represent an accurate sum. Information about reported cases is also available on the World Health Organisation site.
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Confirmed cases aren’t all cases. They only include people who tested positive. Testing rules and availability vary by country.