A doctor prepares for a surgical procedure at a hospital in Washington on June 28, 2016. More than 550 objects have been unintentionally left in Canadian surgery patients between 2016 and 2018, and the problem appears to be getting worse. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Molly Riley

VIDEO: Surgical objects left in patients on the rise in Canada, data shows

553 foreign items — such as sponges and medical instruments — were left behind over a two-year period

More than 550 objects have been unintentionally left in Canadian medical and surgery patients between 2016 and 2018, and the problem appears to be getting worse.

A new report released Thursday by the Canadian Institute for Health Information says 553 foreign items — such as sponges and medical instruments — were left behind over that two-year period.

That’s a 14-per-cent increase between the most recent data collected 2017-2018 and 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.

The information was examined as part of a broad look at how Canada’s health-care system compares to other member nations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Tracy Johnson, CIHI’s director of emerging issues, said the data only notes how often the mistakes occurred, but not how or why.

“Often they are smaller things and they may be things like clips or sponges,” said Johnson, suggesting the reasons are likely complex and multifaceted.

“Some surgeries are long and complicated and if they have to change people during that surgery because some surgeries last a long time, it may be that things get missed because of that. It may be that they don’t have protocols in place — surgical checklists are one of the things that are utilized to try and prevent a number of things happening….

“What we know is patient safety is complicated. People don’t go to work to make mistakes but these things happen.”

Johnson said 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.

And the Canadian statistic is based on data provided by hospitals in only nine provinces.

Still, Johnson said there’s clearly work to be done to improve patient safety, noting the average rate of forgotten items was 9.8 incidents per 100,000 surgeries.

That number also varied widely between regions — from a low of 5.7 per 100,000 surgeries in British Columbia to about 15 per 100,000 surgeries in Quebec, said Johnson.

She suggested that variation may have more to do with how thorough one province’s counting and recording system might be versus another, rather than apparent deficiencies in care.

The information was examined as part of a broad look at how Canada’s health-care system compares to other countries.

ALSO READ: Chilliwack woman, struck by train while trying to save man, has partial hand amputation

Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Village of Keremeos proposes 2.5 per cent tax increase

The Keremoes Review apologizes for any confusion last week’s story may have caused

Open house to offer answers to residents burning questions

The second phase of the Crater Mountain prescribed burning is set for this spring

NHL prospects returning to Penticton for Young Stars Classic

After a one-year absence the Vancouver Canucks Young Stars Classic is returning… Continue reading

South Okanagan swimmers and coach off to Euro 2020 in Belgium

Three members of the KISU Swim Club are headed to Belgium to compete in the Euro 2020 meet

Third South Okanagan show added for PAW Patrol Live!

A third show was announced for the PAW Patrol Live! The Great Pirate Adventure show at the SOEC

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

Kelowna International Airport to help ease people with autism into flying

The tour will take families through the entire pre-flight process

Dyer: What should you do with the climate action plan?

Kristy Dyer is a new columnist to Black Press Media who writes about the environment

Canadian law firm launches class action on behalf of Iran flight victims

Flight 752 was shot down by Iran shortly after take off

Mission Hill cellarman fired after mistakenly dumping $162K of wine down the drain

The former employee filed a grievance with the West Kelowna winery but was unsuccesful

Okanagan winery cellarman fired after mistake costs company $162K of wine

The former employee filed a grievance with West Kelowna’s Mission Hill Winery but was unsuccesful

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

Wine regulator celebrates 30 years in British Columbia

BCVQA wines was established in 1990 to promote B.C made wines

Most Read