When someone checks into a hospital for surgery, whether in Louisiana or another state, he or she likely assumes specific procedures are in place to protect the safety of all patients. However, a recent investigation by public health officials in a different state revealed a surgical error that took place at one hospital several years ago. As a result, in addition to being fined over $40,000, the hospital had to take action to improve its internal processes to improve patient safety and prevent medical and surgical errors.
In Dec. 2014, a woman checked into the hospital for open-heart surgery. According to the surgeon, during the lengthy procedure, well over 100 needles are used, and during this surgery, a needle broke off and became lost in the woman's abdomen. The surgeon claims nurses did not record the missing needle during a safety procedure in which all instruments are counted following surgery, but according to a nurse and a senior scrub technician, everyone else present knew a needle was missing. According to the surgeon, even if he had realized the needle was missing, he would likely not have attempted to retrieve it, but instead would have informed the patient and followed up with her in case problems developed.
The following July, the woman experienced burning abdominal pain and came to the hospital's emergency room, where a metal wire almost 3 inches long was found in her abdomen. The surgeon describes what happened next as a minor incident, since the metal had moved toward the skin's surface rather than the body cavity, and re-hospitalization was not required for removal. However, the state officials conducting the investigation questioned the hospital's attention to patient health and safety and consider the incident one that could potentially have adverse effects leading to serious injury or death.
Although everyone would like to think they are as safe as possible in any medical facility, the truth is medical mistakes do happen, including surgical errors. Thankfully, this particular patient survived her ordeal, but in other cases, a person may endure even graver consequences. Louisiana residents who have experienced such an incident may wish to consult with a skilled medical malpractice attorney to discuss the option of pursuing a civil lawsuit to compensate for unexpected losses.