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06 August 2015

Retained surgical instruments

British hospitals are among the worst in the Western world for leaving surgical instruments in the body after surgery, international research has found.

A report by the OECD shows that the UK has the sixth worst record for foreign bodies after surgery, with 5.5 cases per 100,000 people discharged from hospital.

As such incidents are classed by the NHS itself as “never events”, it is highly likely that a Court would award compensation.

Leaving foreign bodies in patients increases the risk of deadly infections and other complications, and can result in fatal blood poisoning and organ failure.

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The Daily Telegraph reported that in 2009, a patient was left with seven-inch forceps inside her for three months following an operation, causing her months of excruciating and unnecessary pain.  That patient pursued a successful Claim for damages against Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and is reported to have obtained a six figure compensation payment.

The Daily Mirror reported that another female patient, was re-admitted to hospital following a hysterectomy, after surgeons realised a swab was missing and had been left inside her.  They carried out a second operation to remove it, but then left a drain in her abdomen. She had emergency surgery to remove the drain, but was been left dependant on a colostomy bag and faces more surgery.

If you would like to discuss the potential claim relating to retained surgical instruments, please contact John Lowther on (0191) 5666500 or by email at

If you prefer, you can complete our short enquiry form and one of our Solicitors will contact you.