Although most operations go according to plan, sometimes unforeseen complications happen. One of these complications is your surgeon leaving an unplanned piece of medical equipment inside your body after the operation. In order to be sure that your health is not at risk, it is important to know what a retained surgical item is.

According to the Washington Post, this issue occurs once in every 5,500 to 7,000 surgeries. From hectic medical procedures to miscounting, the reasons doctors may leave a sponge or other item in your body are often due to the complicated nature of a major surgery. Often, surgeons accidentally leave these small medical items in dangerous places, such as your midsection or your rib cage. The items are also obscured by blood and similar coloring to the surgical area, which makes it easy for the surgeons to miss. Knowledge of this issue is growing, with awareness campaigns reaching medical officials in order to help give extra reminders to help prevent this mistake.

Germs and bacteria can also grow on the sponges or gauze. Therefore, the medical personnel at each hospital must count all the items properly during the surgery in order to assure the safety of their patients. Recently, new technology has made it possible for professionals to tag each piece of gauze or other item with a microchip and track them throughout the procedure in order to prevent any confusion.

In order to take charge of your health, it is important to fully understand what a retained surgical item is and how to advocate for your safety if you do encounter this issue.