Needle left inside child after operation at Leicester hospital
A consultant surgeon is facing disciplinary action following an operation in which part of a needle was left in a child.
The patient had to be re-anaesthetised so it could be removed.
The incident in October was one of six “never” events – serious preventable patients’ safety incidents which the Government says should not occur – at Leicester’s hospitals since the beginning of April last year.
In a report due before directors of the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust tomorrow, Moira Durbridge, director of safety and risk, says of the needle incident: “During wound closure, the suture needle broke and became disconnected from the thread. Searches were made but the needle was not located.
“The child was allowed to leave the theatre without being X-rayed and later returned to theatre, where an X-ray confirmed that the needle was in the child.”
The child, who has fully recovered, had to have another operation to remove the needle.
Ms Durbridge said an investigation found that trust policy relating to items such as instruments and needles had not been followed. She said: “The policy states that if something is missing, until proven otherwise, it must be assumed that the item is in the wound.
“An apology was made to the mother and child at the time and she was informed of the investigation process.”
Another investigation is also under way after doctors failed to remove a swab from a patient in November.
It happened after a woman had a Caesarian section.
The swab, similar to a tampon, should have been removed the following day, but was discovered the day after that and was removed by a doctor.
Ms Durbridge said: “These type of swabs are often used after the delivery of a baby and clearly they should be removed but it was not a life-threatening incident. The patient has received an apology and has been informed of the investigation.”
She said the processes in relation to checking all surgical swabs, instruments and needles were accounted for at the end of an operation had now been strengthened.
Other “never” events have included an incident in April when one patient was given the wrong lens during cataract surgery and had to have a second operation to put in the correct one.
In a second incident that month, a trainee surgeon noticed the consultant starting to make a cut on the wrong finger of a female patient. The wound was dressed and surgery carried out on the correct finger.
In May, a patient had the wrong tooth taken out and in August a patient was given the wrong dose of medication.
Ms Durbridge said that over the past year the hospitals have carried out about 148,000 operations.
County health campaigner Zuffar Haq said: “It may only be a few incidents, but for those patients involved it is a big issue and an extra trauma I am sure they can do without.”