Surgical Instrument Found in Woman’s Abdomen Months After C-Section

( – Auckland City Hospital in Auckland, New Zealand, erroneously left a large plastic surgical item inside a woman after a routine C-section. She complained of abdominal pain for months following the procedure and sought medical help while caring for her newborn.

After 18 months and many doctor and ER visits, she was finally given a CT scan where the item was found within her abdominal cavity. The item left behind is roughly the size of a dinner plate and is used to keep the surgical cavity open during the procedure. It should be removed during the final phases of closing the wound. This is the second time in two years that a device was left inside a patient at an Auckland hospital. A small swab was left inside a woman’s abdomen after a procedure and was found months later.

The hospital and health commission have apologized for the error and are committed to preventing this in the future. They will mandate the “count policy” and enforce it regularly. The count policy requires all involved parties in the operating room to account for each item used and to ensure it is removed from the patient before ending the surgery. At this c-section in question, there were 11 adults in the operating area, and it’s inconceivable that this large item was left behind.

New Zealand is a reasonably safe place to seek maternity care, and maternal mortality is considered very low in the New Zealand region compared to other parts of the world. Post-operative care in New Zealand is considered adequate, and research suggests that they are in line with other countries of similar size and demographics. Doctors are sympathetic, yet note that errors will occur, and no surgery is 100% safe as complications arise and humans are involved. Everyone involved agrees that this avoidable incident is regrettable and hopefully avoidable in the future.

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