Friday 20 April 2018

Needles and swabs among items left inside patients after surgery

Stephen McMahon,Chairman of the Irish Patients Association
Stephen McMahon,Chairman of the Irish Patients Association

Sam Griffin

Hundreds of patients woke from surgery with foreign objects - from needles to tampons - left inside them, some for as long as six years.

There were more than 280 incidents of "foreign bodies" being left in patients, including surgical clips, devices, and swabs.

In 57 cases of a "foreign body left in situ", the offending object was not specified in the HSE records.

The figures, released under Freedom of Information request, relate to a period from January 1, 2010 to April this year, and include all HSE locations including the National Support Service.

However, voluntary hospitals are not captured in the figures - meaning the true scale of the problem is likely to be much greater.

In total, some 280 cases have been reported, though the numbers were down considerably for 2015, with just six cases reported by mid-April this year.

The figures spiked in 2012 when there were 60 cases of foreign objects left inside patients following surgeries.

The number of reported cases has fallen since the 2012 peak, with 54 cases in 2013 and 53 in 2014.

In response to the request, the HSE admitted because of the complexity of reporting different incidents, variations have developed with regard to how different types of incidents are described locally.

The daughter of one patient, who is aged in his 80s and had a surgical loop left in his upper leg after a skin graft in a Dublin hospital in 2010, said his quality of life has "deteriorated severely" since the discovery of the loop.

She told the Irish Independent that abscesses and infections have developed around the area where the loop was left.

The family, who wish to remain anonymous, want to know the connection between the discovery of the loop and their elderly father's ill health.

"We've contacted the Irish Patients Association (IPA) who are dealing with the hospital. We just want to know if my father would be suffering the way he is now if the loop had never been left inside him," she said.

The man now requires three visits a week from a public health nurse and his family are trying to get a mobility scooter as he can no longer walk without pain.

IPA chief Stephen McMahon said such information "should be freely released and it should not take FOI requests for such incidents to be brought to light".

Irish Independent

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