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Would technology have prevented pregnancy-related hospital error?

In the weeks and months after bringing a child into the world, new parents usually focus their attention on the health of the newborn. Yet, as one woman learned, a careless mistake made during delivery forced her to spend weeks in the hospital recuperating from an infection. The woman's doctor left behind a surgical sponge while performing a cesarean section, which is an alarmingly common problem.

Just days after giving birth to her child, the woman knew something wasn't quite right. Within weeks, however, her intestines "shut down" as the result of the infection that developed as the result of the sponge being left behind after surgery. Doctors performed an emergency operation to right the wrong, which left the woman sidelined for several weeks.

In order to address the issue of "retained surgical item[s]," some medical facilities have turned to radio technology to prevent these mistakes. In fact, one facility in North Carolina decided that patient safety was a priority, so they installed the radio equipment that would allow them to detect any unaccounted for surgical instruments.

At the same time, many institutions have decided that the error-preventing technology is simply too expensive. For some, however, the suffering associated with this type of avoidable surgical error is enough to adopt this effective safety measure.

In many ways, technology has helped improve the safety and effectiveness of medical procedures. Yet many pregnancy-related injuries and surgical errors can be prevented if medical professionals simply exercise the care and caution their patients deserve. A moment of inattention can prove very costly -- physically and financially -- for patients and their loved ones.

Source: WKYC-TV News, "What surgeons leave behind costs some patients dearly," Monica Robins, March 8, 2013

  • Our firm has experience helping North Carolina residents deal with the consequences of pregnancy-related medical mistakes. To find out more, please see our Raleigh pregnancy complication page.

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