A swab was left inside a woman’s body after she underwent surgery at Burnley General Hospital.
The incident, at the Lancashire Women and Newborn Centre, in July this year, prompted hospital bosses to launch an external review of East Lancashire Hospital Trust’s surgical procedures.
A purple band system has now been put in place to prevent a repeat of the incident, called a “never event.”
All patients who have swab packs inserted will wear a purple wristband for each one so they can be counted as they are taken out.
Swabs are routinely used to contain and stop bleeding associated with surgery.
Depending on the extent of the bleeding, which varies from patient to patient and depends on the specific surgery site, the swabs may remain in the body for 24-48 hours after an operation.
Steps must be taken to make sure that all swabs are removed carefully. In the case of this never event, one swab was left in situ too long but hospital chiefs would not say how long it was there for.
Mr Simon Hill, clinical director for family care at the Trust, said: “I can appreciate how concerning this may be for patients and relatives however I can assure you that it is extremely rare for such events to occur. An independent review has been carried out and the recommendations are being implemented.”
The Trust said it could not disclose any more information about the incident to protect patient confidentiality.
The incident is the only never event to be reported at the Trust between 2009 and 2013.