Swabs are used in surgery to absorb blood and fluids so that the surgeons can view the area to operate on more clearly. Procedures are in place to make sure that all swabs are accounted for at the end of an operation, however mistakes are made and a swab can be left in the body. This is known as a type of ‘Never Event’ in the NHS, as it should never have occurred if rules and procedures are followed correctly.
Retained swabs can lead to serious infections, including sepsis, and will require further surgery to remove them and subsequent recovery time.
Contact our experienced surgical negligence solicitors today for more information on our No Win No Fee medical negligence agreement, which could help you obtain compensation for swabs or other medical equipment left in your body.
If we believe that you have strong grounds for a surgical error claim our experienced medical negligence solicitors will support you with our ‘No Win – No Fee‘ agreement.
This means that you will not be charged any upfront legal costs in order to start your compensation claim and if your claim is not successful, you will not incur any costs*. Contact us today for your free no-obligation case evaluation. Call us on 0333 900 8787, email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete our online form.
Which situations increase the risk of a swab left in the body
Surgical procedures or situations where swabs are often left in the body include:
- Childbirth: Swabs can be left in during the repair of tears or following a caesarean section. In December 2019, the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (2019), published a report on the issue of retained vaginal swabs and tampons following childbirth.
- Pressure to act during emergency surgery
(Thiels et al, 2015; Koleva, 2020)
- Psychological factors: Research indicates that failures in team interaction contribute to mistakes being made; these include poor communication and fatigue.
- Point of clinical handover: This has been identified in the research as a serious factor in the retention of swabs in a patient.
(Rabøl et al, 2011; Foster and Manser, 2012; Kapadia and Addison, 2012; Spranzi and Norton, 2020)
- When a patient is obese
Risks and complications of a swab left in a patient after surgery
A swab is described as a ‘foreign object’ and therefore the risks of leaving it inside the body include:
- Pain and discomfort
- The development of abbess and fistulas
- Bowel obstruction including severe constipation
- Infections, including sepsis
- The need for further surgery
- The need for further medication, i.e. antibiotics
- A weakened immune system, leaving the patient at a greater risk of acquiring an infection in hospital
- Psychological injury resulting from poor health, further surgery required and a compromised immune system
Making a compensation claim for swabs left in the body
If you feel unwell after surgery, it is important for medical professionals to determine the cause. Unfortunately, when mistakes have been made in counting swabs, the diagnosis of a retained swab may occur weeks, months or even years after surgery.
This could mean that a patient may be affected with poor health and a weakened immune system for some time.
Claiming compensation for this mistake could help support:
- Further medical treatment, including on a private basis
- Travel expenses
- Loss of income
- Emotional and psychological recovery
If you believe you have a claim relating to a surgical error including medical items such as swabs being left in your body, give us a call to speak with one of our specialists.
Devonshires Claims’ solicitors have experience in dealing with surgical negligence as well as other medical negligence claims. They will work with you to achieve the best possible outcome including justice for the harm you suffered, and compensation which adequately reflects the injury, pain, financial losses and the need for further medical treatment and care.
We provide victims of medical negligence with:
- A free no-obligation case evaluation
- A ‘No Win – No Fee’ agreement
- Access to our network of medical experts and specialist barristers
- Over 20 years’ experience
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