Friday, December 07, 2012

Liver recipient sent home with surgical mat inside him

Transplant patient sent home from hospital with A4-sized surgical mat still inside him 

  • Michael O'Sullivan, 49, had a CT scan three weeks after his liver transplant after he complained of pain

  • A second operation revealed that a silicone mat had been left inside him during the earlier operation

  • It was a 'never event' - a hospital incident that should never happen
  • Lawyer who won him £7,000 compensation said it had been 'basic carelessness'

A fish-shaped lapromat, like the one pictured, was left inside Mr O'Sullivan
A fish-shaped lapromat, like the one pictured, was left inside Mr O'Sullivan

A liver transplant patient was sewn up with an A4-sized piece of surgical equipment left inside him, after a series of medical blunders.

Michael O'Sullivan, 49, received a new liver at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, but was sent home with a silicone mat still inside him.

It was only discovered after Mr O'Sullivan complained of suffering from a lot of pain following surgery. Doctors performed a CT scan three weeks later and decided to operate after spotting something unusual. Mr O'Sullivan was shocked to be told they had discovered the equipment inside him following the operation.

He has now won £7,000 in compensation from the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The award comes after Addenbrooke’s was heavily criticized by health watchdog Monitor, which cited a series of so-called ‘never events’ - incidents that simply shouldn't happen - as one of its major failings.

Personal injury lawyers Slater and Gordon said the ordeal had been 'incredibly stressful' for their London-based client and could have put his health at risk.

Paul Sankey, Principal Lawyer at Slater and Gordon, told Mail Online: 'The hospital's own investigation says that the cause of the incident was the failure correctly to record that an item from the instrument set was in use, not recognising that it had not been removed and failure correctly to complete the count at the end of the procedure. 

'The normal rule is - count in, count out. The root cause was said to be the breakdown of routine checking procedures. In other words this was not, like most surgical mistakes, an error of judgment in the exercise of a difficult skill but really basic carelessness.

'I deal with medical negligence claims day in day out. In my experience mistakes quite as blatant as this are extremely rare.'

Rebecca Brown, from the same firm, added: 'When we go to hospital for surgery, we rightly expect the highest standards of healthcare and professionalism. These standards were not upheld when Michael had his liver transplant at Addenbrooke’s.
The award of compensation is a relief for someone whose health could have been endangered by this carelessness.

'We hope that the resolution of this case, as well of those of others who have brought actions against Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, will serve to protect patients in the future.'

A spokesman for Addenbrooke’s said: 'We deeply regret this incident and have apologized to the patient.

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