Scalpel? … Scalpel? Surgeons leave 16 items in patient’s body

Surgery is terrifying enough without the additional fear of leaving the operating table with a steel implement in your lower intestinal tract, so when University of Washington surgeons were found to have left five surgical instruments in their patients over a five-year period back in 2001, it’s understandable that patients may have been a little more nervous than usual.

Those loose-fingered doctors may want to apply for work at hospital in Germany where surgeons allegedly left 16 pieces of medical equipment – including gauze, a needle, a six-inch roll of bandages and a fragment of a surgical mask – in the body of a 74-year-old man. They’d look like models of efficiency in comparison.

As the Huffington Post notes, Dirk Schroeder went in for “routine surgery” for prostate cancer in 2009. Doctors told him the surgery had gone “well” and expected that it would add another six years to his life.

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Except for the fact that Schroeder spent the next few months in excruciating pain and noticed that his surgical wounds were not healing properly.

In fact, a nurse who came to visit him at his Hanover home was shocked when she noticed a giant gauze pad sticking out of one of his wounds, adds the Daily Mail.

There was a good reason for that, as he was later discovered to be housing the contents of a small surgical storeroom in his anatomy.

It took two subsequent surgeries to remove the 16 items. Though Schroeder died from cancer complications last year, his case is believed to be the most extreme of its kind.

“Such an extent of foreign objects left inside a patient is unique in medical literature,” family lawyer and medical expert Annette Corinth told the paper, who added that the gross negligence exhibited by the unnamed hospital likely contributed to an earlier death than anticipated.

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Schroeder’s family is seeking approximately $127,000 in damages, but it won’t bring back the poor man who housed a horror movie in his body cavity.

It’s also unlikely to put a cap on the number of surgical instruments sewn up with the organs they recently sliced. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University estimate that 80,000 items were left in patients between 1990-2010.

Perhaps ORs should invest in a few airport scanners as part of their post-surgery procedure.

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