It's a terrible problem that causes enormous avoidable patient suffering, infections, and years of follow up care for some patients. And then there are the lawsuits.
But there was a catch: the state Legislature would first have to approve the project. With the state budget in perpetual crisis, there have been delays. And more delays. The University of California San Francisco was supposed to get the contract, but for reasons that remain unexplained, that deal fell apart. Then the contract went to researchers at the University of California Davis.
"The contracting issues, for reasons [state officials] would have to explain, turned out to take much longer than anyone anticipated," explains Kenneth Kizer, MD, director of the Institute for Population Health Improvement at the UC Davis Health System and the investigator heading the project.
Once the contract was executed, he says, "It was sufficiently past the date that the project was due to be finished, and we had to get a contract amended to extend the timeline."
Now, he says, a new, $825,000 contract is "in the throes of being executed."
It calls for his team to analyze surgical adverse events, including retained items, and figure out why they happen and how they can be prevented.