The Los Angeles Times reports that surgical “souvenirs” – a phenomenon that occurs when a surgeon negligently leaves a piece of medical equipment inside of a patient’s body – continue to be a widespread problem, despite new laws which fine hospitals for such errors.

According to a report released by the state’s Department of Public Health, more than 850 such incidents have been reported in the state of California over the past five years. While surgical sponges are the items most commonly left behind, there have been reports of needles, gauze and other objects as well.

In order to combat this distressingly persistent problem, many hospitals are considering mandating a “group approach” to keeping track of surgical equipment, making the entire surgical team – not just the doctor in charge – responsible for counting sponges, needles and other items both before and after the surgery. Some have proposed computer-based scanning systems that would allow doctors to scan a patient’s body to detect items. Meanwhile, public health officials have suggested new regulations that would allow hospitals to be fined for surgical errors even when they don’t cause serious harm to the patients.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of a surgical “souvenir,” visit the Hodes Milman website at to find an experienced medical malpractice attorney.


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