Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Why A Hospital Was Fined $86,000 For Leaving A Towel Inside A Patient's Abdomen

Here's the story. A patient was admitted to a California hospital to have his bladder and prostate removed.

After three months and 43 pounds shed, this poor soul was re-admitted and underwent a CT Scan, which showed a large mass. I'm sure he thought this mass was possibly cancer.

Well, it wasn't cancer. Upon surgically opening his abdominal cavity, the surgical team discovered a different kind of mass: a large blue towel. It gets worse; the towel was intended for surgeons and the team to wipes their hands with only.

Oops. The hospital had no explanation for why the towel ever got inserted in the patient's belly, because it was not the kind of towel or sponge that was supposed to be used in the body cavity.

But here's the most interesting part: the only reason this story has seen the light of day is because California requires mandatory reporting of medical mistakes that can cause serious injury or death. But for this law, most likely the hospital would require the patient to sign a confidential settlement if he sued the hospital for malpractice.
Case closed, and the public never learns about something awful like this happening at its local, "trusted" hospital.

States like Ohio need to pass mandatory reporting requirements of medical errors, mistakes, and mishaps. Hospital care is big business, and hospitals often compete, and even sue each other, over market share.

Their public relations and messaging machines are colossal, and they are quick to tout their latest achievements and ratings. That's fine.

But the flip side of that coin is that the public should know when preventable errors like this one occur. Otherwise, we never get to peer behind the curtain, or in this case the surgical curtain.

If there's no transparency for hospital errors, it's like logging onto an online ratings site where negative reviews are not allowed.

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