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Foreign object left in patient

Surgical teams should have strict procedures

The discovery of a foreign object in a patient after surgery will very often necessitate a further operation to remove it and can lead to more serious complications, such as septic shock or puncture damage to internal organs. Surgical teams should have procedures in place to ensure that all tools, dressings and other materials are accounted for at the end of an operation to ensure that none are left in the patient.

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The most common objects left behind in patients after surgery are surgical swabs and gauzes used to stem and absorb blood flow during an operation, although in rarer cases solid objects such as clamps and scalpels have been found. Estimates of how often this occurs vary, but some studies suggest that as many as one-in-500 operations leave foreign objects behind.

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