Surgical tool 'the size of a dinner plate' left inside woman's stomach for 18 months | The Sun09/05/2023
A WOMAN discovered doctors had left a tool "the size of a dinner plate" in her stomach after she gave birth via a Caesarean.
The Alexis wound retractor – a soft tubal instrument used to hold open surgical wounds – was found 18 months after the initial operation at Auckland City Hospital.
During this time, the woman had suffered from extreme pain and had made several doctor trips before it was stumbled upon during a CT scan.
Health regulators have condemned the public hospital system, claiming it had utterly failed the patient, who was in her 20s.
In an assessment, New Zealand's health and disability commissioner Morag McDowell declared: "It is self-evident that the care provided fell below the appropriate standard because [the device] was not identified during any routine surgical checks, resulting in it being left inside the woman's abdomen.
"Staff involved have no explanation for how the retractor ended up in the abdominal cavity or why it was not identified prior to closure."
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The Alexis wound retractor is a large object made of transparent plastic fixed on two rings.
It's usually removed during an operation before skin is stitched back up.
Because it is a "non-radio-opaque item" it was not picked up on an X-ray.
The shocking event marks the second time in just five years a foreign device has been left inside a patient at Auckland hospital.
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Following the last incident, the board was expected to enforce its "count policy" to ensure that all surgical staff meticulously account for every item used during operations.
But Morag claimed the some of the surgeons at the hospital had failed to even read the policy ahead of the women's C-section.
Initally, Te Whatu Ora Auckland, formerly Auckland District Health Board, claimed it had not was not blame.
But since, the group's director of operations for Auckland, Mike Shepard, issued an apology to the patient.
"We have reviewed the patient's care and this has resulted in improvements to our systems and processes which will reduce the chance of similar incidents happening again," he said.
"We would like to assure the public that incidents like these are extremely rare, and we remain confident in the quality of our surgical and maternity care," he added.
Figures published in January suggests UK surgeons fished out a record number of 'foreign objects' from inside patients last year.
Blunders involving a “foreign object accidentally left in body during surgical and medical care” led to 291 “finished consultant episodes” in 2021-2022, official data shows.
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