‘Foreign object’ left in patient after medical procedure at hospital

Ipswich Hospital. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Ipswich Hospital. Picture: PHIL MORLEY - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Hospital has launched an investigation into a ‘Never Event’ - where a ball of cotton wool was left inside a patient following a medical procedure.

Ipswich Hospital. Picture: ARCHANT

Ipswich Hospital. Picture: ARCHANT

‘Never Events’ are described by the NHS as ‘serious, largely preventable patient safety incidents that should not occur if healthcare providers have implemented existing national guidance or safety recommendations’.

Details of the incident were first revealed on the NHS Improvement website, which publishes a monthly national update of the total number of ‘never events’ over he currently financial year’.

The document described the incident as a ‘retained foreign object post procedure’.

It is believed the incident took place in March this year.


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A spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital described the incident as ‘regrettable’.

She said: “The retained foreign object was a cotton wool ball.

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“We are carrying out an investigation into what happened and that investigation is ongoing.

“It was reported to us soon after, as it should.

“This is an incident which is very regrettable but as it is a ‘never event’ it is very rare that this happens.”

Andy Yacoub, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk, a watchdog for health and social care services in the county, said the hospital must ‘learn and act’ from the incident and enact changes so that such occurrences do not happen again.

He said: “As ‘never events’ are serious medical errors, Healthwatch Suffolk would consider them to occur very rarely.

“They are defined as very serious, preventable and costly medical errors and as such we expect our local hospitals to pay a great deal of attention to them when they do occur.

“They must learn from them and act; informing all those who need to make changes in, for example, decision making so that the public can be assured that such occurrences will not be repeated.

“The Duty of Candour is aimed at helping patients to receive accurate and truthful information from health providers.

“We are unaware of this particular case at Ipswich Hospital but would always welcome consultation with us in order to share messages with the public.”

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