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Minerva Medicolegale 2012 September;132(3):189-95

language: Italian

Surgery of foreign bodies dispersed in thorax: forensic medical considerations about a personal case

Prezioso V. 1, Montemitro C. 2, Bolino G. 1

1 Dipartimento di Scienze Anatomiche, Istologiche, Medico-Legali e dell’Apparato Locomotore, Università La Sapienza, Roma, Italia;
2 Dipartimento Militare di Medicina Legale, Chieti, Italia


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The retention of foreign bodies is a iatrogenic complication that can occur during various surgical procedures. It is commonly believed that all damages resulted from medical and surgical activities are due to a medical fault. Often the fact that not all the complications and failures depend on commissive or omissive behaviors, in violation of technical rules and that, consequences and undesirable results due to often unforeseen, unforeseeable and inevitable factors, not always attributable to the action of the medical operators, are possible, is not taken into consideration. After a brief examination of the epidemiological data from the literature and of the main risk factors related to the phenomenon, a case of retention of two fragments of catheter during a cardiac surgical procedure is illustrated. We have also analyzed the different profiles of medical professional liability related with the specific case and tried to emphasize how, although public opinion ascribes such events to an inexcusable medical fault, it is tough to express a forensic medical judgment. Therefore, each evaluation should never be absolutist, but should be formulated considering all the different unique aspects, that vary in each and every case.

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