Surgeon left syringe in patient’s stomach at Santa Maria hospital

January 11, 2017
Marian Regional Medical Center

Marian Regional Medical Center

A 54-year-old woman left Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria free of a tumor that had formed in her uterus. Little did the woman know that she left the hospital with something new inside her body, a surgical syringe. [KSBY]

After the mishap, it took hospital staff a month and a half to identify and remove the bulb syringe from the women’s abdomen. In response to the incident, the California Department of Public Health levied a $28,500 fine against the Santa Maria hospital.

In April 2014, the woman underwent surgery to remove her tumor. Following the surgery, hospital staff reportedly removed and accounted for all medical instruments.

However, two weeks later, the patient visited a different surgeon and reported bruising and pain in her abdomen, as well as vaginal bleeding. The second surgeon reportedly told the woman the symptoms were part of her healing process.

During a six-week visit followup, medical workers discovered the syringe. The woman then underwent surgery to remove the device.

Officials attribute the syringe incident to miscommunication in the operating room. Marian Regional Medical Center has released a statement saying the misplacement of the syringe was an isolated incident.

“Patient care and safety are always our highest priority and we take this matter very seriously. This was an isolated incident which occurred in 2014. Since then, procedural changes put in place have been successful and no other patient has experienced this complication. We conducted a thorough investigation of this matter and have worked closely with the medical staff, patient care staff and hospital leadership to ensure that an occurrence like this does not happen again,” the statement says.


A syringe, that sucks.


“Since then, procedural changes put in place have been successful and no other patient has experienced this complication” That your willing to admit to.


Another great example of what happens when inDignity Health gets into action. Note the stupid public relations spew instead of admitting error and apologizing for their own stupidity and culpability. Would it be too much for these creeps to just admit the truth? inDignity should be shut down.


That hospital staff will endure a lot of “needling”


You can’t win if you don’t play!


Wtf!!!!?? You leave a syringe in paitient, miss it on follow up and get fined a measly 28 k?? That is messed up.


The patient will get a settlement for hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not >$1M, and the surgeon will be disciplined by the medical board.


Let’s hope the surgeon gets black listed by the insurance companies.


Well thank you captain obvious. Duh. Still, the fine for a multi million dollar corporation is a slap on the wrist. Does that make it easier for you to grasp?


This was a case of human error. Why should “the corporation” be penalized in addition to the malpractice payout? Yes, Dignity will be cutting a check to the patient in addition to the surgeon.


Because the “corporation” is making money and promising to provide a quality service. The corporation is ultimately responsible for ensure that high standards of care are maintained. That means that 1)they my hire qualified staff and keep those qualified staff trained. 2) they must ensure the doctors with privileges at the hospital are up to standard. 3) They have all the power to purchase equipment, maintain quality controls, and they choose who works in their facility.

The corporation approves policy, so it is up the corporation to see if their policies were being followed, and if not, why? Then they need to look at updating policies and training the staff to follow them. Why? Because the hospital is OWNED BY THE CORPORATION, not the rank and file staff.


Give it up RN . He is to thick between the ears.


Quality incidents like this are INCREDIBLY routine (the press just usually doesn’t get a hold of them), It’s not like 1 a year, it’s like 1 a month (or in large hospitals, 1-2 a week). Cumulatively, fines like that would make it harder to practice medicine and harder to pay for quality improvement.


It should not have happened in 2014 or ever.


You’ve never made a mistake?


I have never left a syringe in a body that could have punctured a vital organ, caused peritonitis, sepsis, etc.

Im not perfect. I didn’t say I was. I am saying it should not happen. I don’t know what on earth happened in that OR. Gauze, equipment, item counts happen repeatedly during a surgery. Items are laid out so that they can be easily counted, and if a count is off, everything stops until the count is fixed.


You haven’t left a syringe in a body because you are a nurse, not a surgeon. I can tell by your comment that you are not an OR nurse either.


OR is not my specialty.

I am just not going to argue. It is NEVER ok to leave a sponge, a tool, a syringe in a patient. The OR is full of people with a job to do. First assistant, scrub techs, nurse, anesthesia.

Someone made a mistake in the OR that day. They deviated from protocol. The hospital is responsible to figure out why, pay a fine for allowing this to happen, and make sure training occurs to never allow this to happen again.

Mistakes are forgivable if they are acknowledged and learned from.


“Mistakes” like this cost lives. The woman was in pain and bleeding and it took how long for the inDignity dunces to figure it out? Stupidity and carelessness backed up and propelled by inDignity’s arrogance.



And yes, people DO make mistakes. That is why we have redundancy.


In this case, check lists, not redundancies.


Bet if you ever go in, you will be praying they don’t make a mistake.


That is absolutely correct. Because I understand that sometimes mistakes happen.


“Following the surgery, hospital staff reportedly removed and accounted for all medical instruments.”

Did they follow the same procedure during the second surgery?

Rich in MB

It was the Russians


The “Russians” remark is not clever. Not funny. Doesn’t even rise to the level of an adolescent attempt at humor.