January 25, 2023

A hospital investigates how metal surgical tweezers were left in a patient after they were stitched up after abdominal surgery.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS trust has issued an unreserved apology, saying the incident at Alexandra Hospital in Redditch was “exceptionally rare”.

The medical blunder only became apparent last month after seven hours of abdominal surgery, according to BBC Midlands, when the forceps went missing.

Doctors’ worst fears were confirmed when the missing six-inch arterial clamp was found by an X-ray while the patient was still under anesthesia.

The surgical instrument could not be removed immediately and the patient was taken to intensive care overnight before another surgery was performed the next day to retrieve the clamp.

Obviously, the trust’s investigation will look at whether the required double-checking of all instruments was done before suturing the patient after surgery. It will also examine the logout process at the end of the operation, which should ensure that such errors do not occur.

The trust said there were “clear and established processes” to prevent such incidents.

The trust’s chief executive, Matthew Hopkins, said: “We are aware of an incident where a surgical instrument was left in a patient after surgery.

“There are clear and well-established processes to protect patients from these types of events, which are exceptionally rare.

“We are currently conducting an investigation into what happened.

“The patient and his family have been informed as part of our duty of candor.

“We have apologized unreservedly to the patient and promised to share the findings of our study with them once it is complete.”

More than a decade ago, it was estimated that an average of two surgeries per week ended with surgical instruments being sewn into patients’ bodies. In 2008, more than 700 NHS patients were left with tweezers, scissors, cotton swabs and forceps, according to a newspaper.

Since then, hospitals have been required to publish quarterly statistics of these so-called “never events”.

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