Going into the hospital, changing into a gown, and lying down as you’re being escorted through the doors of the operating room can be a nerve-wracking experience all on its own. Although surgery comes with a risk, it seems more complications arise post-surgery from the hands of no other than the surgeon herself. Doctors have coined the term as “retained surgical items” (RSI).

Every year, 1,500 patients in the U.S. have surgical objects accidentally left inside them after surgery, according to The Joint Commission, an independent, not-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies more than 20,500 health care organizations and programs in the country. Most of the RSI are sponges used to control patient bleeding during long operations. RSI can lead to pain, infections, and other medical complications.

The implementation of electronic scanners and sponge tracking systems has been promoted for use in order to account for all items after surgery. For example, doctors and nurses in the Indiana University Health system would use sponge counts to keep track of the gauzy pads during surgery. However, out of the 34,000 surgeries performed each year at IU Health’s three-hospital campus in Indianapolis, they would get one or two cases in which the sponges were left in a patient.

IU Health now uses tracking technology, which costs about $275,000 a year, including the annual cost of the tagged sponges which are about $8 per surgery, USA Today reported. IU hospitals have not had a single lost-sponge case in five years since the use of the tracking technology. This has led to a lot of savings and reduced medical costs.

Click “View Gallery” to view the case reports of patients whose lives were in jeopardy when it came to surgery and surgical tools.