Going under the knife is scary. It has a way of making a person feel powerless and at the whim of the Gods or surgeons the case may be. It’s a very real concern. We have all heard at least one tragic story of someone who went to the hospital for something and came out with something else, or worse yet, didn’t come out at all. Add to that the mounting cost of medical care. They seem to charge you ten times the actual cost for every single thing that you use or push the button for! How many units of morphine DID I need when I had my c-section? Hell if I know. I was pretty bombed. It’s outrageous… the cost not me being bombed.
The latter part is why I take every damned thing in my room that isn’t nailed down when I have a hospital stay. Kleenex? Hell yes I do. The top was popped on it and I used one damn tissue. They are charging me for it so I’m taking it. Those pads they put under you, ladies? You guessed it. It was a pack of 10. I used two. I took the other 8 home. They make excellent puppy training pads. Those latex gloves are great for applying sunless tanning creams!
What about the things you bring home and don’t pay for? I’m not talking about implants, though sometimes you can bring those home without paying for them yourself. I’m not even talking about MRSA or chicken pox. I’m talking hardware. Yep, occasionally people come home from the hospital carrying a little reminder of that momentous occasion under the knife that they don’t find out about until later. Scalpels, needles, suction hose, clamps… these things all have made a list or two when it comes to “things surgeons leave behind”.
Occasionally, you run across a case so extreme that you have to wonder if the entire surgical team was high. Dirk Schroeder of Hanover, Germany was the victim of one of the most bizarre and extensive examples of surgical negligence most will ever see reported. Mr. Schroeder underwent surgery for prostate cancer in 2009. Following the surgery, it is reported that he suffered extreme agony, and it’s no wonder. During a post-surgical home health follow up, a nurse spotted something protruding from the patient’s body. The item in question? A large gauze pad.
Further surgery was performed to remove the gauze pad from Mr. Schroeder’s body. What was discovered might shock you. Not one, not two, but sixteen separate items were left behind by the surgical team at the time of closing. These items include things such as a roll of bandage, a 6 inch compress, several swabs, and a piece of surgical mask. SURGICAL MASK. It took two additional surgeries to remove all of the objects from the patient’s body.
How in the holy hell does someone leave behind a piece of their surgical mask and no one notices before they whip out the needle and thread, put in a few stitches, and send you out the door? According to the hospital, which is as yet unnamed, they don’t. The hospital states that it is their belief that the patient ingested all of the items post-op. That’s right, they submit that the patient somehow managed to ingest all of the items. Apparently they all managed to make it to the surgical site via gravity.
While Mr. Schroeder passed away last year due to the spread of his cancer, his family is seeking settlement from the hospital to the tune of approximately $160K. A solicitor for the family states that the hospital initially offered the family around $660 for their troubles. Notice there is no “k” there. Though the misplaced, forgotten, and otherwise disregarded items were not the actual cause of his death, one can’t help but think that the family is entitled to far more than a mere $660. In the US, this sort of negligence could cost a doctor a license, the hospital a lawsuit, millions of dollars in settlement, and far more in reputation. A settlement has yet to be reached.