Items Left Behind After Surgery

A startling find by researchers looking into how often surgeons leave things inside people after they close things up. Patients in emergency surgery situations and very large patients are especially susceptible.

A variety of things are left behind..clamps, sponges and similar equipment. This happens to about 1,500 patients a year. That's a national estimate based on insurance records from about 800,000 operations in Massachusetts over a 16-year period. Researchers agree it's a small number compared to the 28,000,000 operations each year in the United States.

The study appears in the New England Journal of Medicine.