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IU Health is spending more than $250,000 in new technology to reduce surgical errors at its hospitals – and an Indianapolis lawyer says that is good news for patients.

Caroline Gilchrist, a partner with the medical malpractice law firm, Baker & Gilchrist, was featured in a recent television news story on Indianapolis station Fox 59.

The news report focuses on a new push by IU Health to prevent surgical sponges from being left inside patients’ bodies. That effort includes purchasing radio frequency tracking devices that detect sensors implanted in surgical sponges. The devices are being used at three hospitals in the IU Health system.

Caroline Gilchrist was interviewed as an experienced Indiana hospital malpractice attorney who has won cases where patients were wheeled out of surgery with sponges sewn up inside them.

“It’s a clear breach, a very clear act of negligence,” she said in the interview.

A retained sponge can have deadly and dangerous consequences. The biggest risk is infection, which may not be discovered right away.

Unfortunately, sponges are lost in patients’ bodies all too frequently. And the problem will likely continue at Indiana hospitals that have not made the investment in preventative technology as IU Health has.

“Everybody makes mistakes,” said Gilchrist. “The question is are you going to stand up and take responsibility for that?”

In any given surgery, hundreds of medical tools might be used. Sponges are the most common surgical objects retained. But other instruments – such as needles, knife blades, safety pins, scalpels, scissors, clamps, forceps, suction tubes and tweezers – are sometimes left behind.

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly how frequently sponges and other surgical tools are left behind, because many cases go unreported.

But one study in the Annals of Surgery showed that discrepancies in sponge counts happen in 13 percent of all surgeries.


The injury attorneys at Baker & Gilchrist take great pride in helping injured people when their injuries occur due to someone else’s negligent, careless, or reckless actions. With over 60 years of combined litigation experience, we can offer you the knowledge and assistance necessary to help you win the compensation you rightfully deserve for your injuries.