Sharp Increase in Objects Left Inside Patients After Surgery

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There's been a sharp increase in the number of objects unintentionally left inside Canadian medical and surgical patients.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information says 553 objects such as sponges and medical instruments were left behind in patients between 2016 and 2018.

That's a 14 per cent increase between the most recent data collected 2017 and 2018, as well as statistics collected five years earlier.

It's also more than two times the average rate of 12 reporting countries, including Sweden, the Netherlands and Norway, which had the next highest rates.

CIHI's Director of Emerging Issues, Tracy Johnson says the information was examined as part of a broad look at how our health-care system compares to those in other countries.

However, the findings don't include why or how these accidents happened, or whether such a misstep followed a crisis situation.

Johnson also points out that several peer countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, do not report on cases where foreign objects are left behind, making comparisons difficult.

Canada also had the highest rate of avoidable complications after surgery, including lung clots after hip or knee surgery among 12 countries studied.


With files from the Canadian Press