Leaving an object in a patient’s body is a preventable and egregious surgical error. If you or a loved one was injured by a retained surgical instrument, contact a Poughkeepsie objects left in body lawyer to explore what options for legal recourse are available to you. A surgical malpractice attorney could answer your legal questions and discuss the best strategies for your potential claim.

Warning Signs of Objects Left in the Body

A patient with a surgical object left in their body may suffer a range of symptoms, making it vital to seek medical attention immediately if odd or strange signs surface. Common warning signs that might indicate a retained surgical object include:

  • Swelling, redness, or other indicators of infection
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Respiratory strain
  • Fever
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Constipation
  • Distention in the abdomen
  • Rapid weight loss

Other symptoms of an object left in the body after a surgery could include excessively swollen lymph nodes, mental fluctuations, headaches, and wounds that will not heal. Symptoms associated with systemic infection such as quick pulse, chills, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, quick breathing, and an extremely low body temperature may also indicate the presence of a retained surgical object.

Objects Frequently Left Behind Post-Surgery

While surgical sponges are one of the most common objects left behind post-surgery, other objects commonly left behind include:

  • Scissors
  • Needles
  • Pins
  • Forceps
  • Towels
  • Tubes
  • Scopes

The extent of a patient’s injuries varies based on the instrument, where it is left, and how long it is retained. While the chest cavity, pelvis, and abdomen are common areas where surgical objects are left, retained items may travel to other regions of the body, causing further damage. If a medical provider does not promptly identify and resolve a retained surgical object, the victim may suffer injuries including fistula, obstruction, perforated organs, sepsis, serious infection, or even death.

How Could an Object Left in Body be Prevented?

A Poughkeepsie objects left in body attorney could fight to hold negligent doctors accountable when their actions or inaction causes an otherwise preventable injury. Lack of communication between surgical team members, insufficiently trained staff, a breakdown in adopted procedures, or poor hospital policies to keep track of surgical items are all common causes of retained objects.

It is important to remember that unlike some surgical complications, leaving an object in a patient’s body is always a preventable occurrence. Only an act of negligence can lead to a surgical tool or other item left behind after a procedure is completed.

When a doctor fails to uphold the standard of care and allows an object to be left in the body following a surgery, they could face civil liability for the damage they cause. These mistakes are not limited to doctors, however, as nurses and other medical personnel could also bear some of the blame. Anyone whose negligence results in a foreign object being left in the body could face a civil lawsuit.

What Compensation Is Available for Poughkeepsie Objects Left in Body Victims?

When a patient is injured due to a medical provider’s failure to fulfill the standard of care recognized in their field, the victim may be eligible for compensation. An attorney in Poughkeepsie could help an objects left in body victim fight to recover full compensation for their losses.

Compensatory losses may include rehabilitation costs, therapy expenses, medical bills, the cost of hospitalization and any corrective surgeries, physician appointments, and lost wages. Damages for emotional distress, pain, and suffering may also be available.

Statutory Deadline

Malpractice victims must file a lawsuit no later than two years and six months from the date the alleged malpractice happened, pursuant to New York Civil Practice Law & Rules §214-A.

However, there is a specific exception to this statutory deadline in cases involving surgical objects left in a patient’s body.  Victims who retain a foreign object have one year from when they discover the item, or reasonably should have discovered the item, to file a civil suit claiming financial damages.

Understanding the Certificate of Merit

There is a unique requirement for medical malpractice lawsuits that do not apply in other cases. State law requires that a Poughkeepsie attorney in a case involving an object left in the body must file what is known as a certificate of merit along with the lawsuit. The certificate of merit is a legal document created by the plaintiff’s lawyer that certifies that they sought the guidance of a medical professional before filing a lawsuit. In the case of an object left in a body, this professional should have similar experience with the initial procedure as the doctor that performed it.

The purpose of consulting with a doctor on these cases is to ensure that they have merit. The ultimate goal is to avoid baseless malpractice claims from clogging up the court system. The process must involve the medical expert evaluating every aspect of the case and determining if malpractice occurred.

The failure to attach a certificate of merit could doom a medical malpractice lawsuit related to an object left in a patient’s body. The courts will generally dismiss these cases if a certificate of merit is not attached.

Exceptions to the Certificate of Merit Requirement

Just like with many legal requirements, there are important exceptions to the certificate of merit rule. In fact, an attorney does not have to attach a certificate of merit at all in some cases. For instance, an attorney that makes three “good faith” efforts to consult with an expert and is unable to do so may proceed without a certificate but they must include this information as part of the lawsuit.

There are also ways to secure an extension for filing the certificate of merit. While the certificate should be filed at the same time as the lawsuit, there are situations where delaying the filing could violate the statute of limitations. In these cases, the court has the power to extend the deadline for the certificate in order to protect the lawsuit. The court has the power to grant an additional 90 days for the plaintiff to file the certificate after the lawsuit has been initiated. Whether or not the court agrees to do so is entirely up to the judge.

Talk to a Compassionate Poughkeepsie Objects Left in Body Attorney

A dedicated Poughkeepsie objects left in body lawyer could provide sound legal counsel if you have suffered severe injuries due to a retained surgical instrument. A skilled attorney could provide relentless representation in pursuit of just compensation, allowing you to focus on healing and recovery. Schedule a case consultation today to learn more about your legal options.

Poughkeepsie Surgical Error Lawyer