'Wrong swabs' left in grandmother after pacemaker operation

Margaret Draper and Royal Preston Hospital Image copyright Draper Family/Michael Graham/Geograph
Image caption Mrs Draper was being fitted with a pacemaker at Royal Preston Hospital

An 81-year-old grandmother who had surgical swabs left in her by surgeons has said it had a "huge impact" on her.

Staff intentionally left four swabs in Margaret Draper after an operation to fit a pacemaker at Royal Preston Hospital in 2015 but they were later revealed to be the wrong type.

The mistake, which the hospital has admitted responsibility for, has left a wound which is yet to fully heal.

The trust which runs the hospital said "lessons had been learned" from it.

'Pain and scars'

The Chorley grandmother-of-five said dealing with "the drawn out and stressful complaint procedure" in the 15 months since the life-threatening operation had been "a difficult time for me and my family".

"As well as the physical pain and scars that I've been left with, my experiences have had a huge impact on me mentally."

Mrs Draper's solicitors Irwin Mitchell said Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust's initial investigation into the error found the surgical team opted to leave swabs in her wound to help control post-operative bleeding following the procedure on 13 August.

However, it found when she was later moved to Blackpool Victoria Hospital, an "insufficient verbal handover" meant staff there were unaware of the swabs, which were only found when the decision was taken on 27 August to remove the pacemaker, they said.

The solicitors said the hospital initially did not admit the severity of the mistake and claimed the swabs were made of a special material used to prevent blood flow.

'Robust measures'

Following pressure from Mrs Draper's family, the swabs were sent for tests and in March 2016, a second report by the trust into her case found they were surgical swabs, which should not have been used, and so the case constituted a "never event", a preventable incident which "simply should not happen".

Mr Draper said it worried her that the initial investigation "did not find this was a 'never event' and that it was only after we continued to force the issues that the true scale of the problem was revealed".

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust's medical director Mark Pugh said: "We would like to sincerely apologise to Margaret Draper and her family for the distress caused.

"We have carried out an investigation into the matter; lessons have been learned and robust measures are being put in place."

He added it could not comment on legal proceedings but said the trust would "continue to work with Mrs Draper and her family to resolve the issue".

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