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Turns out it was gauze, not a sponge

November 17, 2010

The Department of Health has completed its investigation on a medical error I reported on last week.

But the facts DOH originally gave me were not entirely correct.  There were two incidences of retained foreign objects at Women and Infants, not one, and it wasn’t a sponge, it was gauze in the first incident and a piece of X-ray sensitive string in the second case.

When I asked why I wasn’t given this information the first time I called, I was told that the investigation was still ongoing and gauze was close enough to a sponge.  I did ask about whether two incidents took place, but because both mistakes were reported on the same day,  DOH referred to it as one case.

For the details on what actually happened, take a look at the compliance report (be warned- some of the descriptions are rather graphic.)

DOH expects Women and Infants to offer a plan of correction for these errors, but it will not give the hospital a fine because “Women & Infants does not have a history of non-compliance with federal or state regulations or staff not following hospital policies.”  But Director of the Department of Health Dr. David Gifford does say

This is a reminder that all hospital policies and procedures to prevent medical errors must be followed all the time. If surgical staff is unable to confirm that all instruments and items have been removed from a patient, an x-ray needs to be done before the patient leaves the operating room.

I’m going to meet with folks at Women and Infants later today to get their side of the story.  Stay tuned.


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