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Failure to Remove Medical Tools before Closing claims


A number of clinical negligence claims arise as a result of ‘retained surgical items’ (failure to remove medical tools claims). Surgical items such as sponges, swabs and other surgical instruments can be left in patients’ bodies following surgery and lead to serious injury such as infection resulting in sepsis (blood poisoning) and damage to internal organs. Surgical equipment should never be left inside a patient’s body. The most common reason for this type of error is lack of communication between the clinicians or inadequate checks at the end of the operation.

Below are several factors that can lead to surgical equipment being missed before a patient is stitched up leading to clinical negligence claims:

  • Difficult surgery necessitating the use of lots of surgical equipment
  • Surgery for obese patients
  • Excision of a big abdominal tumour
  • Excision of large abdominal tumours / masses
  • Use of multiple instruments and packs
  • The need to cut short an operation due to the deterioration of the patient
  • The presence of an untrained or inexperienced clinicians
  • Absence of a swab and instrument counting system
  • Improper operating conditions in the theatre, for example poor lighting

For further information or if you believe that you have a clinical negligence claim, please contact our Medical Negligence Team on 020 3405 2860 or e-mail contact@universalaw.co.uk or complete our short form.

All enquiries are completely free of charge and we will investigate all funding options for you including Legal Aid and ‘No Win No Fee’.