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Unintentionally Retained Surgical Objects

Unintentionally Retained Surgical Objects

When going into surgery, patients are putting their life in the hands of others. There is complete trust that the doctors operating will do everything they can to avoid a negative outcome. What happens when the surgical team makes a mistake?

What is a URFO?

An unintentionally retained foreign object (URFO) is a medical malpractice case where a surgeon leaves a surgical item in the body. While rare, occurring every 1 in 5,500 surgeries, it is still a cause for concern in any surgery. These mistakes are referred to as never events as they are preventable in every circumstance. The most common URFOs include:

  • Soft Materials such as sponges, towelettes, gauze
  • Clamps/forceps
  • Tubes or scopes
  • Needles, scalpels, scissors

Why is a URFO Considered Medical Malpractice?

A URFO is considered medical malpractice because it is a surgical mistake. The surgical items can contain bacteria and cause permanent or fatal damage to the body. Additionally, body tissue can begin growing around the object, embedding the tool in place.

Symptoms to Watch For:

After surgery, it is crucial to monitor your body and contact your doctor if you feel like something is wrong. Possible symptoms of a URFO include:

  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Pain and discomfort
  • Difficulty urinating or passing bowel movements
  • Bloody urination or bowel movements
  • Fatigue
  • Infection on surgery site
  • Severe headaches
  • Difficulty breathing and swallowing
  • Overall decline in health

Contact us today if you or a loved one experienced a retained surgical item after a procedure. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO for a free, no-obligation consultation or fill out our online form.

This website is not intended to provide medical advice. Patients should consult with a trained medical professional.