A metal clamp was left inside a patient at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, the Los Angeles County hospital that has pledged to tighten procedures in the wake of several patient deaths.
The clamp was left inside a patient treated for gunshot wounds several weeks ago and was found earlier this month when the patient had a chest X-ray in preparation for another surgery, Los Angeles County health officials said.
The clamp was removed and the patient, whose identity was not released, did not appear to have been injured, officials said.
"That just shouldn't happen," said Kenneth Kizer, M.D., a former California health director and president of the National Quality Forum.
Doctors failed to order a post-surgical X-ray to ensure that no instruments were left in the patient, said John Wallace, a county Department of Health Services spokesman.
In the past three years, the county has settled four suits involving objects left in King Jr./Drew patients after surgery. State and federal inspectors have cited the Los Angeles hospital for a pattern of lapses in care, including errors that contributed to the deaths of five patients last year.
However, county health officials have said the hospital has corrected most of the problems identified by the CMS and California's state licensing agency.