Preventing surgical malpractice as a result of sponges left after surgery

Carl Saiontz

By Carl Saiontz
Posted December 26, 2007


A new technology is being used at some hospitals to help prevent surgical sponges from being forgotten during surgery. Medical malpractice studies have previously found that around 1,500 people have a surgical tool left in after surgery every year, and surgical sponges are one of the most common tools forgotten. A new barcoding system could help prevent this surgical malpractice and avoid potential infections, injuries and deaths.

>>INFORMATION: Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Multiple surgical sponges are often used by doctors to slow bleeding during surgery. However, as the sponges absorb blood, they can be difficult to differentiate from surrounding tissue, especially if a doctor fails to pay attention and keep track of the sponges used during the surgery. As result of a sponge left after surgery, a patient could suffer:

  • Pain or Discomfort
  • Difficulty Healing
  • Infections
  • Bowel Obstructions
  • Additional Surgery
  • Death

Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois has begun using a new barcode technology to help surgeons and nurses keep track of sponges. Each surgical sponge is scanned into a computerized system using a unique barcode before it is placed into the patient and after it is removed. The system keeps track of how many sponges are in the patient at any given time and alerts the doctor if all are not accounted for.

Proponents of the new technology suggest that it will help prevent surgical malpractice and eliminate the risk that surgical sponges will be left in after surgery. Many surgeries require that hundreds of sponges be used, and a mistake as simple as miscounting the surgical sponges could have devastating consequences.


The lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. investigate potential surgical malpractice lawsuits nationwide. To review a potential case for medical malpractice with our legal team, request a free claim evaluation.

No Comments • Add Your Comments

Add Your Comments

  • Have Your Comments Reviewed by a Lawyer

    Provide contact information below and additional private comments if you want an attorney to contact you to review a potential case.

    The information below will not be published to this page.

  • NOTE: Providing information for review by an attorney does not form an attorney-client relationship.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.