Lawyer: Surgeons left 16 items in German after op

January 17, 2013

A lawyer in Germany claims surgeons left up to 16 objects in her client's body after an operation for prostate cancer.

Annette Corinth says doctors removed a needle, compresses and surgical strips from banker Helmut Brecht after his failed to heal properly following surgery in 2009.

The 77-year-old ex-banker died last year and his family is seeking €80,000 ($106,216) damages for his suffering, plus costs, from the Henriettenstift hospital in Hannover.

A spokesman for the Protestant Church-linked organization that runs the hospital rejected the claims.

Achim Balkhoff told The Associated Press Thursday the objects couldn't have been left in the patient's body during the operation because the equipment wasn't in use at the hospital.

He added that the compensation demands were "unusually high" for such a case.

——

Surgical slips such as these are rare, but with millions of operations performed worldwide each year mistakes do sometimes occur.

According to Loyola University in Chicago, citing medical studies, some 1,500 patients in the United States have surgical objects accidentally left inside them after surgery each year. Most of the objects are sponges used to control patient bleeding during long operations. They can lead to pain, infections and other medical complications.

Such cases have prompted doctors to coin the term "retained surgical items" and draw up guidelines to prevent them occurring. These include accounting for all items after surgery—such as with the help of RFID chips—and using equipment containing special strips that show up clearly in x-rays.

Some notable cases:

—In Dec. 2011, a man in Ohio who had two towels left in his body after surgery at a Veterans hospital won a $275,000 settlement from the federal government.

—In Aug. 2012, California regulators fined a Fresno hospital $50,000 for leaving a towel in a patient after abdominal surgery.

— In Sept. 2012, The Canberra Times of Australia reported that a patient required a second operation after a surgical instrument was left in the abdomen. The incident prompted Canberra hospitals to begin special training for staff to make sure they kept better track of instruments during surgery.

— In Feb. 2010, doctors in the Czech Republic discovered a foot-long metal tube had been left inside a woman's abdomen five months after surgery. The chief of the clinic said four staff members had been punished.

— In March 2009, a Kentucky jury awarded a woman $2.5 million after she required surgery to remove a sponge left inside her after a hysterectomy three years earlier. Part of her small intestine had to be removed.

Explore further: Australian man sues over surgical mistake

shares

Related Stories

Australian man sues over surgical mistake

November 13, 2011
An Australian man endured seven rounds of chemotherapy and had 80 percent of his stomach removed after being told he had cancer, only to later learn it was a misdiagnosis, reports said Sunday.

Patient dies after Turkey quadruple limb transplant

February 27, 2012
A Turkish patient who underwent what was touted as the world's first quadruple limb transplant died on Monday due to complications, the hospital announced.

Complication in Turkey's quadruple limb transplant

February 26, 2012
Turkish surgeons had to remove one leg from a patient who underwent a quadruple limb transplant after his heart and vascular system failed to sustain the limb, the hospital said on Sunday.

Vietnamese man 'stable' after giant tumour removed

January 6, 2012
A Vietnamese man was in a stable condition in hospital Friday after doctors removed a giant tumour from his right leg that weighed more than the rest of his body, hospital officials said.

Doctors to remove Vietnamese man's 90kg tumour

January 5, 2012
A man left unable to walk by a tumour on his right leg that weighs more than the rest of his body went under the knife in Vietnam on Thursday to have the growth removed, hospital officials said.

Recommended for you

World's first child hand transplant a 'success'

July 19, 2017
The first child in the world to undergo a double hand transplant is now able to write, feed and dress himself, doctors said Tuesday, declaring the ground-breaking operation a success after 18 months.

Knee surgery—have we been doing it wrong?

July 18, 2017
A team of University at Buffalo medical doctors have published a study that challenges a surgical practice used for decades during arthroscopic knee surgery.

New tools help surgeons find liver tumors, not nick blood vessels

July 17, 2017
The liver is a particularly squishy, slippery organ, prone to shifting both deadly tumors and life-preserving blood vessels by inches between the time they're discovered on a CT scan and when the patient is lying on an operating ...

Researchers discover indicator of lung transplant rejection

July 13, 2017
Research by scientists at Dignity Health St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center's Norton Thoracic Institute was published in the July 12, 2017 issue of Science Translational Medicine titled "Zbtb7a induction in alveolar ...

New device could make closing surgical incisions a cinch

July 7, 2017
Like many surgeons, Dr. Jason Spector is often faced with the challenge of securely closing the abdominal wall without injuring the intestines. If the process goes awry, there can be serious consequences for patients, including ...

Success with first 20 patients undergoing minimally invasive pancreatic transplant surgery

June 29, 2017
Surgeons at Johns Hopkins Medicine report that their first series of a minimally invasive procedure to treat chronic pancreas disease, known as severe pancreatitis, resulted in shorter hospital stays, less need for opioids ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

PeterD
1 / 5 (1) Jan 18, 2013
It is amazing that anyone that stupid can become a surgeon!
Q-Star
3 / 5 (2) Jan 18, 2013
It is amazing that anyone that stupid can become a surgeon!


I find it amazing that anyone as smart as you can only find stupid things to say.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.