Swab left in second woman at Burnley General Hospital

Burnley General Hospital. Lancashire Newborn Centre.
Burnley General Hospital. Lancashire Newborn Centre.

A Burnley woman has described how she was left in agony after a swab was left inside her body for four days following surgery – the second such incident since 2009.

The Express reported last month how a woman had a swab left in her body in what East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust classed as a “never event” last summer. The Trust initially said that was the only such incident reported between 2009 and 2013.

But a second woman said she was sent home without a swab being removed in September 2011. The married mum, who does not want to be identified, underwent surgery following a difficult birth and was discharged from the Lancashire Women and Newborn Centre.

The Trust has admitted the original data given out to the Express last month was misleading. There was actually one never event between 2009 and 2012 and a second incident in 2013.

Four days after she left hospital the woman began to experience crippling pains as the swab tried to make its way out of her body.

She said she told her husband and they phoned the hospital where staff urged her to return immediately so it could be removed.

In response to the incident in 2013 the Trust has now changed its procedure and introduced a purple band system where swabs are counted in and out of patients.

“I got up one morning and thought I was going to pass out,” said the woman.

“Without going into all the gory details, when I went to the bathroom it was clear that something was seriously wrong.”

A statement from East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust said: “The data published for the never event was for the periods 2009 to 2012 not 2013 as originally stated. During that period the Trust had only one never event, this was reported and investigated internally as per Trust policy. It was also reported externally via the Strategic Executive Information System.”

Mr Mark Willett, clinical director for obstetrics, gynaecology and sexual health, said: “I can assure the woman that all the appropriate reporting mechanisms were followed and in understanding what happened in her case, has helped us develop measures which will help protect patients from similar incidents in the future.”