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A surgeon and the operating room staff that assisted him have been suspended after a broken drill bit was found inside the head of a patient they had recently operated on. According to the hospital spokeswoman, the drill bit broke during the surgery and, per the hospital’s procedural guidelines, should have been located and accounted for at the end of the surgery.
Somehow, it wasn’t.
The investigation into how the drill bit could have been “forgotten” in the patient’s head is ongoing. The name of the doctor, as well as those of his staff members, has not been publicly revealed.
The patient was not injured by the misplaced drill bit, and it was removed without incident. There is no word yet regarding the possibility of a medical malpractice claim.
The breakdown in procedure cited in this case illustrated a major problem at many hospitals across the country. The hospital in this case was a prominent, well respected institution.
This breakdown is also one of the motivating issues behind the call for standardized error reporting in Pennsylvania and across the country. By providing hospitals with a formula for identifying and addressing problems, with the oversight of a third-party group, there is the hope that procedural problems like the one mentioned above will become less of a factor in hospitals.