Medway hospital admits childbirth swab left in woman

A pregnant woman
Image caption The hospital said the patient had suffered "no lasting harm"

A new mother had a swab left inside her for 20 days after giving birth at a hospital, health bosses have admitted.

The woman had a natural delivery at Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham, Kent, on 16 October last year but the swab was not found until 5 November.

The report, from Medway NHS Foundation Trust, said staff did not follow the correct procedure but the patient suffered "no lasting harm".

The swab was removed, an ultrasound performed and antibiotics prescribed.

Karen Rule, the hospital's executive director of nursing, said: "We would like to again offer our unreserved apologies to this patient, as our consultant did at the time of the incident."

According to the British Medical Journal, the error can cause fever, infection, pain, secondary postpartum haemorrhage and psychological harm.

'Never event'

Details of the incident have been published in the trust's Never Events Spotlight Report, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

A "never event" is a patient safety incident that is "wholly preventable" and therefore should not happen.

Medway Maritime Trust last reported one in November 2017.

The report said: "The investigation found the swab count was documented as being correct but there was no documentary evidence the post-repair swab count was checked with a colleague as per unit guidance."

It also identified "missed opportunities" by the woman's community midwife and GP to discover the swab, which was finally removed in early November.

Ms Rule told the board meeting an investigation had been completed, and the hospital had "identified the learning we can take from it".

"They hadn't been using trust-wide recognised checklists," she added.

"That has all been reviewed and updated since, and individual staff have been spoken to and the learning has been shared."

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