Gaffe of the Week: Doctors accidentally leave surgical tool inside patient

Addenbrooke's Hospital pays patient compensation after forgetting to remove an A4-sized silicon lapromat before stitching him up

Michael O'Sullivan had a liver transplant at Addensbrooke's Hospital in the U.K., but about three weeks after the procedure he started to experience pain. He went back to the hospital and doctors performed CT scans to see if they could find a problem. What they found was definitely a surprised them and O'Sullivan.

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BBC reports, the CT scans revealed a surgical tool called a lapromat inside the transplant patient's body. The hospital's investigation shows the error occurred because someone failed to correctly record that an instrument was being used.

Therefore doctors weren't able to check to make sure all instruments were accounted for.

"The normal rule is - count in, count out," said Paul Sankey, a lawyer representing O'Sullivan, to the Daily Mail. "The root cause was said to be the breakdown of routine checking procedures. In other words this was not, like most surgical mistakes, an error of judgement in the exercise of a difficult skill but really basic carelessness."

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The hospital has apologized and paid O'Sullivan more than $11,000 in compensation.

A lapromat is a fish-shaped piece of silicon that is inserted during surgery and acts as a protective shield to prevent the bowel from accidentally puncturing. It is supposed to be removed before the surgery is complete.

This isn't the first time this hospital has had issues with botched surgeries. The BBC reports four botched operations took place at the hospital in just six weeks last year. In one of those procedures, doctors operated on the wrong part of a patient's body.

For closing up a patient while surgical tools were still inside, we award the doctors at Addensbrooke's Hospital who took part in this procedure with the Gaffe of the Week. We commemorate this with a statue of Rob Ford in butter.

(Reuters image of an operating room not at Addenbrooke's Hospital)

Gaffe of the Week runs each Thursday on Yahoo! Canada News.

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