Surgical precision is a term that is frequently used to describe something that must be carried out with accuracy and great attention to detail. There is a reason the term has entered the lexicon and it's because surgery does require those two qualities to be successful. One aspect of surgery that must be precise is that the number of items used to perform a surgery, such as needles, sponges, clamps and so on, must equal the number of those items that are present at the end of the surgery. In California and elsewhere, failure to meet that criteria could result in personal injury to the patient by an item being left inside the patient after the surgeon closes any incisions.
In an incident in Oxnard, a woman undergoing heart surgery was closed up with a 3 inch long needle left in her abdomen. The needle had broken during the course of the surgery. It was a delicate surgery that required many needles and wires. The needle was removed seven months later when the patient came to the hospital complaining of burning pain and a sharp object that protruded from her abdomen when she bent over.
The error resulted in a fine of $40,400 for the hospital. Officials said that policies of counting materials were not followed nor was a follow up X-ray taken to ensure that there were no objects left behind in the patient. According to a state report, wires are sometimes left in a patient for post-operative reasons, including monitoring. However the needle broke and got lost in the abdominal tissue, according to the report.
Surgery is not without risks, but when proper procedures are followed and attention is paid amazing results can be accomplished. Surgeons do need to be held to a higher standard because for them a mistake can mean life or death. A person in California who suffered a personal injury due to an apparent surgical error can get more information by consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney. A lawyer can review the facts of the case and inform the client as to what legal options may be available.