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INSIDEThe number of Cases where Patients leave hospitals after surgery with surgical implements etc. left inside them is quite surprising particularly when one considers that there is a fairly basic procedure which can be followed to ensure that this does not happen.   It’s called COUNTING!   You count the instruments, bandages, wadding etc. at the beginning of a procedure and again at the end before the patient leaves the operating theatre.

The most recent case in the Irish Courts was that of Claire Lalor (30) who was awarded €140,000 by the High Court to compensate her for the physical and psychological aftermath of a surgical team leaving a vaginal swab insider her after the delivery of her baby.   This incident occurred in the National Maternity Hospital.

The swab went undetected for three weeks notwithstanding the fact that she returned to the hospital on two separate occasions complaining of pain, selling and a bad odour from her vaginal area.     On neither occasion was an internal examination carried out; instead strong antibiotics were prescribed.

It was only when she attended on a third occasions that an internal examination was carried out and the swab was removed.

Ms. Lalor had been compounded by the unnecessary antibiotic treatment and she was diagnosed with the significant infection known as C difficile.

Liability was not actually in issue before the Court; it was called on, however, to measure the level of damages and did so at 140,000.   Mr. Justice Kevin Cross concluded that Ms. Lalor had suffered a significant physical injury and a depression or adjustment disorder caused by the swab event.   He accepted that she had a not unreasonable subjective fear and distrust of the medical profession.

Of course there is by now a list of items that have been left inside patients to include sponges, towels, needles, instruments, retractors, swabs, catherers, metal clips, screws, tracheotomy tubes, scalpel blades etc.

One of the most striking cases has been that of the late Dick Schroeder (a German Case) where 16 different objects were left inside him after an operation for prostate cancer.   Incredibly, the Hospital involved claimed that all of the items entered Mr. Shroeder’s body “post-operative”!


* A Solicitor may not charge fees or levy or any other charges as a percentage of any award or settlement.




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