In some cases, a doctor who does surgery forgets one of the tools or instruments they were using, leaving it behind, inside the patient. This can have a drastic and negative impact on the patient’s health. In some cases, it can lead to serious and even fatal injuries. Even in the best cases, the patient needs a second operation to remove the item.

The danger does, to some degree, depend on what object gets left behind. Examples include scalpels, scopes, clamps, sponges and surgical gloves.

Why does this happen? The reasons differ from case to case. In many instances, the surgeon works with a team of technicians and nurses. Miscommunication on the team could lead to drastic mistakes.

A big reason is just human error. For instance, team members may be asked to count instruments at the end to make sure nothing was left behind. A simple counting error could lead the surgeon to believe the safety check is complete when all items have not been removed.

You also have to factor in the potential chaos of an operating room, especially for an emergency procedure. Unexpected complications during surgery could pull the surgeon’s focus away from standard procedures and lead to mistakes. Things happen quickly, surgeons have to make stressful decisions on the fly and they are not always perfect.

If this has happened to you, and you have suffered from complications or injuries as a result, make sure you know what legal options you have. You may deserve compensation for pain and suffering, medical costs, lost wages and much more.