Medical Negligence*

Retained Surgical Instruments Claims*

Retained surgical instrument claims (RSI claims) occur when the medical staff inadvertently leave behind a surgical instrument in the patient’s body following a surgery. RSI claims are also known as 'never events' and can have serious implications for the patient involved and are also classed as a form of medical negligence. The term 'never event' is defined as a serious medical error which could have been prevented.

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What is a Retained Surgical Object?

A retained object refers to a foreign object which is left inside the body following a procedure. This is an error which can lead to various injuries and illnesses. This can also lead to long-term issues in the future. In most cases, surgical tools are retained during an emergency surgery procedure where urgent medical attention is required. This often means that medical practitioners are under pressure to treat the patient within a certain time frame.

Common items which can be retained following a surgical procedure include:

  • Scalpels
  • Needles
  • Gauze Sponges
  • Swabs
  • Stitches or staples

There are already preventative measures in place to ensure that medical instruments are not retained following surgery. Prior to carrying out a procedure a medical practitioner must count and check what instruments they have. This must also be carried out following the procedure to ensure that no items have gone missing or have been retained in the patient. There are a number of complications which can occur following retained instruments especially if this is left unnoticed for some time. This can include severe pain and discomfort and in some cases can lead to an infection developing. In many cases, the patient will have to undergo further surgery in order to get this foreign object removed.

If you have been affected by retained surgical instruments as a result of medical negligence you may be entitled to make a claim for damage.

Common Injuries and Illnesses

Injuries and illness sustained in retained surgical instruments claims include:

  • Nerve Damage
  • Internal Injuries
  • Infections
  • Fatalities
  • Damage to Organs
  • Sepsis – This is a potentially life-threatening complication which is associated with infections. It occurs when chemicals which are released into the bloodstream to fight an infection trigger a response throughout the body. If it is the case that a foreign object has been left inside the body, sepsis can be extremely dangerous and immediate medical attention is needed. Failing to do so can cause the body to go into shock and in some cases can lead to organ failure.
  • Fistula – This is an abnormal link or connection between two organs which would not usually connect. This link is often formed where a patient has retained surgical instruments which may then lead to further complications. In most cases, further surgery is required to remove the foreign object which is causing the problem. Symptoms may not appear for some time which often causes the condition to worsen over time. This can result in prolonged recovery time.


Causes of retained surgical instruments injuries and illness include:

  • GP Negligence
  • Hospital Negligence
  • Poor Aftercare of Patients
  • Errors During Surgery
  • Substandard Care of the Patient
  • Failing to carry out certain checks prior to and after surgery

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Our helpful team

Need Help? Just Ask.

For more information and a confidential discussion on your medical negligence claim, call Elaine Hickey, Head Medical Negligence Solicitor, on +353 1 649 9900 and tell her about your medical malpractice case or reach out via email to and she can call you back.

How do I make a claim?

Once you have gathered all the relevant information in relation to your injury it is then time to move forward with your claim. It is important to use a specialist medical negligence solicitor to help you with this.

  1. Speak with a solicitor

    If you feel that you were not provided with appropriate medical treatment whilst under the care of a medical professional which resulted in injury due to the actions or in-actions of a medical professional, then speaking with a medical negligence solicitor following the injury is imperative. Medical negligence is a complex topic in Irish law. Speak to a medical negligence solicitor when bringing a claim forward. This ensures that no essential steps are missed throughout the legal process. Bringing a claim forward without having spoken to a solicitor can delay your claims procedure. A solicitor can help to determine your medical negligence time limit claim.

  2. Obtain medical records

    In order to make a claim, it must be established and proven that the injury sustained was caused by the medical negligence of the doctor or medical staff tasked with your medical care. Therefore, after having spoken with you about your case, your solicitor will then request access to your medical records. At this stage, the solicitor will have your medical records assessed by an independent medical expert. This will help determine whether a surgeon or medical staff who treated you had, in fact, administered substandard medical care and if negligence was the cause of the injury and if your injuries/outcome could have been avoided if the appropriate level of medical care had been adhered to.

  3. Letter of Claim

    If the independent medical expert has concluded that medical negligence has occurred, then your solicitor will draft a Letter of Claim to the medical practitioner who treated you. A Letter of Claim will outline the nature of your case and invites the medical practitioner to settle your case. The next steps involved are heavily dependent on your case and response to your Letter of Claim and will determine whether your case will be brought to court or settled outside of court. Your solicitor will be on hand every step of the way to guide you through this process.

At Tracey Solicitors LLP, our dedicated medical negligence solicitors have years of experience in helping people deal with traumatic medical injury claims. We understand the injuries, both physically and emotionally, that you have suffered and have supported and helped many people in similar situations proceed with medical negligence claims in Ireland over the past 30 years.

For more information and a confidential discussion on your medical injury claim, phone 01 649 9900 or email to tell us about your case, where you can speak with a member of our team straight away.

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Case Settlement

If you are to proceed with a medical negligence claim you may be entitled to claim compensation for the accident and added expenses, you may have incurred. These claims are called damages.

General Damages

General damages are non-financial damages such as pain and suffering and/or physical and emotional injuries following a medical negligence injury.

Special Damages

Special damages are out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of the medical negligence injury, for example, loss of earnings (if you are out of work), medical bills, added travel costs as a result of the accident (for example, travel to and from the hospital) and future care costs. Learn more about Special Damages.

What are the Legal Time Limits?

The statute of limitations are the legal time limits on how long you have to make a claim, which can vary depending on the situation. When taking into account how long medical negligence claims take, it is important to remember that medical negligence cases require certain time frames in place within which you can bring a claim. For medical negligence claims it is two years less a day following the date of the incident or two years less a day following the date that a person made the connection that their illness or injuries were a result of medical negligence. Contacting a solicitor to discuss your case will help you in determining how long you have left to make a claim.

Medical Negligence Involving Children

In an unfortunate incident where a child is subject to medical negligence, the process of making a claim differs from that of an adult. A minor may be in a position to bring a claim forward in the first two years following their 18th birthday.

Learn more about Legal Time Limits

About Tracey Solicitors LLP

We draw on more than 35 years of experience in personal injury law to provide you with expert advice and legal services.

We’re here to help you with your claim, and will work with you to ensure you understand every step of your legal journey.

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