A WOMAN was awarded almost €140,000 in High Court damages after a vaginal swab was left inside her following the birth of her first baby.
It remained undetected in Claire Lalor for almost three weeks, despite two visits by her to the National Maternity Hospital (NMH).
The swab was like a "mini-football", it was claimed.
Mr Justice Kevin Cross found the trauma suffered by Ms Lalor, a 30-year-old hairdresser, of Swords, Co Dublin, due to the presence of the swab, was "extreme".
After the swab was detected, Ms Lalor was later diagnosed with C.dificile, a "significant infection", as a result of unnecessary antibiotic treatment she had been earlier put on at the NMH before the swab was diagnosed, he noted.
Outside court, Ms Lalor said: "I couldn't be happier."
She can now get on with her life after "all the pain and suffering" she and her family had gone through.
"It made me feel helpless, these people telling me there was nothing wrong with me, when I knew there was something wrong. It was awful, absolutely awful."
The NMH had accepted liability for insertion of the swab and failure to detect it during two visits to the hospital.
The case was before the High Court to assess damages.
The case arose after Ms Lalor's baby was delivered following a difficult birth at the NMH on December 24, 2012.
She was discharged on December 27 but went back to the hospital twice, on January 2 and January 9, on advice of public health nurses over concerns about pain and a smell from her lower body.
On neither occasion was she examined internally at the NMH and instead she was given antibiotics.
When she attended a third time on January 16, 2013, Ms Lalor described the smell as "disgusting" and "horrible." On that occasion, she was examined internally and the swab was found.
Mr Justice Cross said Ms Lalor was "entirely appropriately, extremely distressed" by this.
Some two days after the swab was removed, she was extremely ill and returned a fourth time to the NMH where she was advised by a doctor she was suffering from post-natal depression.
She was "very angry" at this because, whatever about her psychological symptoms, she clearly also had severe physical pain and distress from what had occurred to her.
She was admitted to the hospital but when she went home, continued to suffer sweating, chills, fever and diarrhoea and was unable to hold food down.
She was taken to Beaumont Hospital where she was diagnosed with C.dificile as a result of the unnecessary antibiotic treatment she was put on before the swab was diagnosed.
The judge accepted evidence Ms Lalor was at no greater risk of future infection with C.dificile than anyone else but accepted, given her past experience, she was clearly more worried than an ordinary individual would be.
A total award of €140,000 damages was fair and reasonable, he concluded.