Saturday 16 December 2017

Woman claims wire was left in her body after operation

Eleanor Curtin Sheehan after the opening day of her High Court action for damages
Eleanor Curtin Sheehan after the opening day of her High Court action for damages

Tim Healy

A WOMAN claims a four centimetre steel wire was left inside her body after a gallbladder operation, the High Court heard.

Eleanor Curtin Sheehan (57) claimed that as a result she was in pain before her wedding day and ended up in hospital during her honeymoon.

She has sued South Infirmary Victoria Hospital, Old Blackrock Road, Cork, for damages, claiming the wire may have come from metal used for cleaning laproscopic equipment.

The hospital denies her claims, says the metal could not have come from the surgical procedure, and she may have eaten the object.

"I was devastated. I was shocked, I did not know what to think," she told the court. "I was suffering for so long. This was inside me and I had no idea."

Her counsel told the court that Mrs Curtin Sheehan had a gallbladder procedure in the South Infirmary in April 2011, and that more than a year later – in July 2012 – she had to have further surgery to remove a steel wire four centimetres long from her upper abdomen.


Dr John O'Mahony SC said a scan before the July 2012 operation had identified a metallic object near the abdominal wall which was consistent with the gallbladder procedure in 2011.

Counsel said experts on Mrs Curtin Sheehan's side would say the "inescapable conclusion" is that the foreign body came about during the gallbladder operation.

Mrs Curtin Sheehan, from Holyhill, Cork City, claims a metallic object was incorrectly left in her after the operation.

She has further claimed the hospital failed to properly manage or treat her during the course of the gallbladder operation and as a result she suffered severe personal injury.

She says she was caused to suffer considerable abdominal pain and discomfort and had to undergo two further operations in July 2012. It is also alleged there was a failure to observe the metallic object during the course of an inspection of the operative site at the end of the gallbladder operation.

It is further alleged the piece of metal that was retrieved from Mrs Curtin Sheehan's abdomen did not resemble any recognisable surgical instrument and it may have been metal used for cleaning some of the laproscopic equipment.

The hospital denies negligence, saying the piece of steel could not have got in to Mrs Curtin Sheehan during the gallbladder procedure and contends she may have accidentally eaten it.

Dr O'Mahony, opening the case, said a few months after the procedure, his client had had abdominal pain and swelling.

In May 2012, she got married and while on honeymoon in Portugal required admission to hospital with pain.

She later went on holiday to Wales in July 2012 but returned home early because of pain. She was referred to Mercy University Hospital, Cork, where a hernia was diagnosed but the surgeon did not find any evidence of a hernia and ordered a scan.

Counsel said the scan showed a linear metal object in the upper abdomen and Mrs Curtin Sheehan had to have a second operation to have it removed.

Dr O'Mahony said a metal object this size would require a giant size bite if you were eating and would not go unnoticed.

In her evidence, Mrs Curtin Sheehan said she was happy-go-lucky before this but that has now all changed. "All I wanted to be was me and I am not the same person," she said.

Under cross-examination by Majorie Farrelly SC, for the hospital, she said there was "no way" she swallowed the wire. She said she had been left with scarring after the operations and would not wear a swimsuit because of it.

The case continues before Ms Justice Mary Irvine.

Irish Independent

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