Thursday, June 2, 2011

Retractor Left in Patient’s Abdomen after Hemorrhoid Surgery [Not Likely]

NBC News in San Diego reports that five hospitals have been fined a total of $300,000 by the California Department of Public Safety for “dangerous errors.” One of the errors is described as follows:

Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas, April 16, 2010: A malleable retractor was left inside a 66-year-old woman's stomach during a hemorrhoidectomy (removal of hemorrhoids).The flexible metal instrument was described as being approximately 12 inches long and 1 inch wide. Surgeons performed a second operation to remove the instrument.

I have some real news for you. Unless this was the mother of all hemorrhoids, it is very unlikely that a 12 inch long retractor was left in the stomach [obviously, they meant to say abdomen] of a patient. Hemorrhoids are located in the anorectal area. One does not need a 12 inch long retractor nor does one need to open the abdomen to perform a hemorrhoidectomy. So if this retractor was left in the abdomen during hemorrhoid surgery, it is a bigger problem than simply leaving a retractor in a patient. The surgeon had to have been completely lost or temporarily insane to have done what this report claims.

I think there is something else going on here. It could not have been a hemorrhoidectomy that resulted in this complication.

Oh well, let’s not let the facts get in the way of a sensational story.


Neil B said...

Gotta love it when the media doesn't get their facts straight. News stations need to have a physician they contact for their stories or risk being ridiculed. The worst part is how people react to it. I lose faith in humanity every time I see comments on news articles.

Libby said...

I'm not a surgeon, but really now, how does one lose track of something as long as 12"??? Unless this woman was huge I would think that it would sorta be in the way somehow. I'm less than 12" front to back abdominally so If it were in my abdominal cavity it would be poking out (unless they laid it lengthwise which I would think would put it into the deliberately causing harm category).

Also, if indeed the "surgeon" was doing a hemorrhoidectomy via the abdomen that lady had more problems than the rod in her gut. hmmm maybe it had to be taken out via the abdomen because it was inserted anorectally...

Skeptical Scalpel said...

@ Libby

I have heard of many cases where a large instrument was left in a patient. This retractor is long and narrow. It's rather easy to lose. That's why the stuff is supposed to be counted.


I love to pick on mistakes like this. Obviously, the press release published without any sort of scrutiny.

johan pitt said...

Rather useful thank you, I do think your audience may perhaps want considerably more reviews along these lines maintain the good content.

Skeptical Scalpel said...


Thanks for the comment. I keep looking for items like this.

Venarpo said...

It is biggest error and lead to dangerous result. I am suffering from external hemorrhoid and looking to treat it naturally without surgery.

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