Woman finds surgical instrument in abdomen after C-section, removed after 18 months (labcalindia)

A New Zealand woman, suffering from chronic pain for 18 months after undergoing a Caesarean section, found a surgical instrument inside her abdomen, a Guardian report said.

The instrument- an Alexis wound retractor- was left inside the woman after she delivered a baby at an Auckland hospital in 2020. A health authority in Auckland named “Te Whatu Ora” was found guilty of breach of code of patient rights on Monday.

“An Alexis wound retractor (AWR), a device used to draw back the edges of a wound during surgery, was left in her abdomen following her C-section. This resulted in the woman suffering chronic abdominal pain until the device was discovered incidentally on an abdominal CT scan,” New Zealand’s Health and Disability Commissioner Morag McDowell’s report said.

“There is substantial precedent to infer that when a foreign object is left inside a patient during an operation, the care fell below the appropriate standard,” the report added.

The instrument was eventually removed from the abdomen in 2021, almost 18 months after the surgery.

The report also said that during the operation, several medical professionals such as a surgeon, a senior registrar, an instrument nurse, three circulating nurses, two anaesthetists, two anaesthetic technicians and a theatre midwife were present inside the theatre.

“Te Whatu Ora pointed to a lack of expert evidence to support the conclusion that [the code] had been breached and referenced known error rates,” the report said.

McDowell report’s also noted that the case was similar to another incident that happened in the same health authority, earlier.

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