Retained Surgical Items: The Costs of Prevention

March 13, 2013 | Strategic Insights for Health System


Healthcare risk managers may be interested in a March 8, 2013, USA Today article that discusses retained surgical items and what hospitals are doing to protect patients from experiencing this error. According to the article, thousands of patients a year leave U.S. operating rooms with surgical items in their bodies, and despite occasional tales of forceps, the items are usually cotton sponges that physicians use to soak up blood and other fluids. There's no federal reporting requirement when hospitals leave sponges or other items in patients, but data from the U.S. government and several research studies suggest these incidents happen between 4,500 and 7,000 times a year.

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