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Foreign bodies ingestion: What responsibility?

Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine
DOI: 10.1016/j.jflm.2013.12.024
  • Foreign Bodies Ingestion
  • Toothpick
  • Professional Responsibility
  • Medical Negligence
  • Law
  • Medicine
  • Psychology


Abstract The ingestion of foreign bodies is one of the most important and difficult emergencies for a physician to diagnose. Accidental ingestion is more common in children, in patients with dental implants, in individuals with mental disability and in drug users. Voluntary ingestion is found in patients who are psychologically unstable, in prisoners or those who attempt suicide. Foreign bodies may be divided into food as fish bones, chicken bones, food bolus, meat, etc. or real foreign bodies such as orthodontic implants, needles, pins, glass, coins, etc. The authors present a case of management, from the medicolegal point of view, of a female patient age 80, who complained, for some weeks of modest pain in the left iliac fossa, and afterwards the endoscopy showed a toothpick into the wall of the sigmoid colon. Assessed of the clinical status of the patient presented severe cardiac comorbidities so that before processing the patient to a second resolutive endoscopy, it was necessary to obtain the hemodynamic stability. However the management of cases of accidental ingestion of foreign bodies is particularly difficult. Medical errors can arise from the very first contact with the patient resulting in delays in appropriate treatment. The doctor to avoid compromising its position on medical liability, must use all the knowledge and diligence known by the art and science of medicine.

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