Scissors Are Left In Woman After Surgery


    scissors are left in woman after surgery[font=verdana,sans-serif][font=verdana,sans-serif]email this storyapr 20, 12:30 pm (et)

    [font=verdana,sans-serif](ap) an x-ray showing a 17centimeter (6.7 inches) pair of surgical scissors in the abdomen of...
    [color=#3366cc]full image

    sydney, australia (ap) - a sydney woman demanded an explanation tuesday from a hospital where a pair of scissors were left in her abdomen after surgery and said she planned to sue.

    pat skinner, 69, had part of her colon removed at sydney's st. george hospital in may 2001. but she said that she continued to suffer intense pain in her abdomen for months after the operation.

    eventually, she demanded doctors x-ray her abdomen. they did and discovered the 6.7-inch pair of scissors, which were removed in october 2002.

    "it was like a nightmare seeing those scissors up on the screen," skinner told sky news television tuesday. "it was very, very traumatic and extremely painful."

    the hospital has apologized to skinner for the accident, but tuesday she said plans to take legal action, although she did not provide any details.

    a hospital spokeswoman told the associated press that lawyers for both sides were currently meeting and discussing the matter.

    the incident was reported to the health care complaints commission, but no disciplinary action was taken against the surgeon or the four other staffers who operated on skinner, said the hospital's chief executive, david pearce.

    "basically, the advice to ... mrs. skinner is that we couldn't explain how a pair of 6.7-inch scissors was left in her abdomen," pearce told sydney radio station 2gb tuesday. "we have put this down to human error. i've been executive director here for four years, and in that time we've done something like 40,000 operations and this is the first time this incident has occurred."

  2. 4 Comments

  3. by   nekhismom
    How hard is it to notice that a pair of 6.7 inch scissors is missing??? Somebody really dropped the ball on this one, that's for sure.

    I can only imagine how painful that must have been for the pt.
  4. by   SmilingBluEyes
  5. by   Energizer Bunny
    This is a case where I really can't blame her for the lawsuit. I don't think "I'm sorry" would be quite enough for me.
    Last edit by CNM2B on Apr 21, '04 : Reason: spelling errors
  6. by   gwenith
    The 7.30 report first broke the story a couple of days ago but the transcripts are only just available. When I visited the website the latest update had also been transcribed so I have copied it here

    Full article

    Australian Broadcasting Corporation



    Broadcast: 20/04/2004

    Hospital offers scissor explanation
    Reporter: Andrew Geoghegan

    KERRY O'BRIEN: First, we're going to return to last night's extraordinary 7:30 Report story, of how a Sydney hospital left a large pair of surgical scissors inside a woman after an operation, then failed to detect the potentially life-threatening error for 18 months.

    The reaction from politicians, the media and outraged members of the public was enough to force a U-turn from Sydney's St George Hospital, which until today had chosen not to speak publicly on the issue.

    The hospital's explanation ... a very rare occurrence of human error.

    But this explanation is no consolation for Pat Skinner, the victim of the bungle which had left her in agony and facing a legal battle for compensation which could cost her tens of thousands of dollars.

    Andrew Geoghegan recaps on the developments today.

    DAVID PEARCE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, ST GEORGE HOSPITAL: This is the first time an incident like this has happened at St George.

    We strongly believe it's not indicative of the quality of the surgical services we provide here.

    ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: What a difference 24 hours makes.

    Yesterday, Sydney's St George Hospital refused the 7:30 Report's request for an interview to explain how a pair of 17-centimetre scissors were left inside Pat Skinner's abdomen.

    Today, however, after being inundated with media enquiries, the hospital relented, chief executive David Pearce fronting the cameras to defend St George Hospital's reputation.

    DAVID PEARCE: Our explanation is that it was human error.

    It was a very, very rare occurrence, as I said.

    First time on record at St George Hospital.

    It's something we're determined to make sure doesn't happen again.

    It's important I add that the staff are absolutely devastated about this issue, too.

    We understand how the Skinners feel and we can only sympathise with the terrible error we've made.

    DR GRAHAM NEWSTEAD, COLORECTAL SURGICAL SOCIETY OF AUSTRALIA: How that could occur is simply by the fact that an instrument may have been placed down for a moment on a piece of bowel whilst doing some other task and then a loop of bowel folded over it and it was missed at the end of the procedure.

    ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: For Pat Skinner, it's been a three-year ordeal which could end up costing her tens of thousands of dollars.

    Last night, the 7:30 Report detailed the botched operation at St George Hospital which left Pat Skinner in agony for 18 months.

    PAT SKINNER: I think they thought that maybe, yeah, I was, you know, making a fuss.

    ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: And you felt guilty about that?

    PAT SKINNER: Yeah.

    I think they felt, "Well, you know, you're going through depression."

    ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: The 17-centimetre surgical scissors had been left inside her abdomen during surgery to remove part of her colon.

    It would be a year and a half before they were detected and removed, along with some of Pat Skinner's bowel which had grown over the scissors.

    PAT SKINNER: I was just in tears.

    I was just, you know, it was just such a shock.

    The thing that struck me, it was not so much that the scissors had been left inside me, but that nobody knew that they'd been left.

    DON SKINNER: I was told that they may have been left on the drape.

    ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: Despite constant complaints from Pat Skinner, medical staff at St George never detected the error.

    It was Pat Skinner herself who demanded an X-ray.

    A damning piece of evidence which shows the result of a potentially life-threatening hospital error.

    DON SKINNER: How can you not see them?

    How can you not see them and if you haven't seen them, doesn't someone look around and say, "Where's the scissors?"

    DAVID PEARCE: The procedure required counting of certain instruments in the operating theatre.

    That didn't include at that time large instruments like the scissors.

    It was smaller items.

    Subsequent to that original surgery, the Department of Health has modified their procedures, which now require counting both before and after surgery.

    ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: While pleased with the reform, Pat and Don Skinner would still like to talk to St George medical staff who were present during the operation.

    PAT SKINNER: We did ask if we could talk to somebody that was in the operating theatre on that day that could perhaps give us some closure, but nobody wanted to talk to us or was able to talk to us.

    None of those eight people was able to talk to us.

    And I think I found that really hurtful, really distressing.

    DAVID PEARCE: Our focus was on answering their questions, acknowledging the error and improving systems.

    Some of the staff that were in the theatre at that time had moved on to other hospitals and other jobs.

    We didn't feel it was particularly productive to have a potential confrontation.

    Our focus was on answering Mr and Mrs Skinner's questions in a non-confrontational environment and we certainly, in our investigation, interviewed staff and, in fact, we went through a re-enactment of that surgery and we had staff assessed in terms of their clinical competency.

    We needed to reassure ourselves that we had competent staff and our investigations confirmed that.

    But we didn't see any value in our staff that were in theatre at that time that were still working at St George, being interviewed by the Skinners.

    ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: Dr Graeme Newstead, head of the Colorectal Surgical Society, thinks Pat Skinner's request to talk to surgical staff involved in the botched operation is reasonable.

    DR GRAHAM NEWSTEAD: One of the most important things that patients have concerns about with adverse outcomes - and in her case, as I believe, probably an unfortunate procedural oversight or misadventure - is that closure is terribly important and I myself on occasions, when outcome has not been all that we've desired, have had family in, hospital Administration, medical staff and an appropriate nursing or social workers.

    I think that does help patients and I think that's a good procedural policy to undertake.

    It does no harm and it can do good.

    ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: The NSW Health Minister, Morris Iemma, declined our requests for an interview, but pointed out the Health Care Complaints Commission should have investigated the bungle itself, rather than relying on St George Hospital's own investigation.

    The commission today contacted the Skinners, telling them it is keen to initiate a review.

    BARRY O'FARRELL, NSW OPPOSITION HEALTH SPOKESMAN: Mrs Skinner's case demonstrates how corrupted the Health Care Complaints Commission process has become and Mrs Skinner's example highlights the fact that the Health Department will never make admissions, will never hold anyone accountable and will offer no explanations or apologies unless pursued by the media.

    ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: The Skinners must now prove to a court that Pat has suffered an impairment to her health.

    But even if successful, the Skinners could still be out of pocket, following a capping of payouts under the NSW Civil Liability Act.

    Why is St George Hospital fighting the Skinners right for compensation?

    DAVID PEARCE: We're certainly not fighting it at all.

    The hospital has no role to play in negotiations regarding a settlement.

    ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: So why weren't they offered compensation from the start?

    DAVID PEARCE: When it comes to compensation, that's a matter that's negotiated between the solicitors acting for our insurers.

    ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: The Skinners expect to take their case against the hospital to trial by the end of the year.

    DAVID PEARCE: We're confident that we had a robust process and the fact that we can't definitively explain to the Skinners how those scissors got in her abdomen is a matter for regret.

    KERRY O'BRIEN: Slight understatement there.