About half of the 9,744 paid malpractice claims between 1990 and 2010 involved surgeons leaving an object inside the patient, according to new research in the journal Surgery. (Most often the object is a sponge). From the Washington Post:
Keep in mind, these data only draw from malpractice claims that were paid. The data would not capture a never event where a patient did not experience harm. It's hard to know whether this study even captures the full breadth of never events. As the study's lead author Winta T. Mehtsun, a surgeon at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, points out, their data only cover malpractice claims. They don't touch cases never filed. "Although the data we utilized captured surgical never events resulting in malpractice claims, many do not reach legal process and are then only voluntarily disclosed, with little coordination among reporting bodies," he writes in the Surgery article.