Foreign Objects in the Body After Surgery: What to Expect With Medical Malpractice

Undergoing a surgical procedure is a stressful and frightening experience for most people. So, when something does not go as planned, the anxiety and hardship experienced are even greater. For some people, the unthinkable happens. During their recovery or after, they discover that a surgical instrument or tool was left behind and remains in their body. In most scenarios, this situation is a direct pathway to a medical malpractice suit. Learn what to expect with this process.


Personal injury claims are generally hinged on a requirement that the responsible party was committing an intentional act, such as speeding excessively. However, medical professionals are bound by a duty of care. Consequently, whether they intentionally exercised negligence that leads to the foreign object being left in the patient or not, they are still generally liable. As a result, victims are not forced to prove that the surgical team intended to cause them harm.

Discovery Rule 

All states mandate how long a victim has to file a claim for compensation against another party, such as two years. Typically, once this period expires, the individual cannot legally move forward with the claim. Medical malpractice cases are covered under the discovery rule. The discovery rule resets the statute of limitations clock to the date the object was discovered to be left behind, which does not have to be the original date of the surgical procedure. 

Playing Fair 

If a surgical team leaves a foreign object behind in the body of the patient, it would seem clear that the patient holds no responsibility and should be compensated fairly. However, medical centers and facilities often work hard to minimize payouts and protect their interests. You should never assume that they will play fair, so it is often best to have an attorney for proper representation and protection.

Compensation Options

A foreign object left in the body can cause many issues for patients. In addition to treatment for infections and pain, victims have additional compensation options they may be able to take advantage of. For example, if the object damaged the individual's reproductive system and they are unable to conceive a child, they can sue for noneconomic damages. Disfigurement, pain and suffering, and mental distress are some of the additional compensation options available. 

If you or a loved one had an instrument or tool left behind during surgery, you may be due compensation. Speak with a medical malpractice attorney to determine your options.