Woman’s Mystery Pain? Oops. Surgical Tool Was Left Inside Her for 3 Months

michelle-doig-collins

Michelle Doig-Collins

Last April a woman in Rancho Santa Margarita California checked into an Orange County surgery center for a routine gynecological procedure. The courts have now marked that date on the calendar, because that’s when the lady’s personal medical nightmare started.

Michelle Doig-Collins is the patient’s name, and she regrets having kept that particular appointment. It involved a tubal ligation. Michelle is a mother of 3 and she kept wondering why she wasn’t feeling better in the days and weeks after surgery. In fact, she was feeling a whole lot worse.

“I was nauseous, had heavy cramping, heavy pain,” she remembers.

So she went to see her doctor, who performed a pelvic exam. And then she went again. And then she went again. She was told she had a vaginal infection and was prescribed antibiotics. Faulty exam. Wrong diagnosis. Drug-pushing instead of fact-finding.

Sound familiar? It should. It happens a thousand times each day.

surgical-items-inside

How would you like to see this on your x-ray?

Not long after, when she went to the bathroom, she was horrified when the tissue paper got stuck on the tip of a metal probe inside her. Her husband drove her quickly to the closest emergency room and that was where the mystery ended. Michelle finally had an explanation for her agony. An x-ray revealed that, yes indeed, a surgical instrument used in her procedure had been left inside her.

“How did no one see this? But I can tell you from experience that it’s not that rare.”  (Medical malpractice attorney Jeffery Greenman)

According to multiple studies on the subject, the best guesses are that 12 Americans every day are discharged from the hospital with a surgical item left inside them. That’s about 4,000 patients a year.

surgical-items-art

“Michelle very well could have died. She could have got sepsis or some other horrible infection that didn’t go away,” Greenman said. Greenman, who is representing Michelle, is investigating exactly how this happened, and why it wasn’t discovered during postoperative exams by her doctor.

“I had this thing in me for 11 weeks,” Michelle said. Fortunately she is now on her way towards a full recovery.

For more on the subject, take a peek at this article:

http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-fresno-hospital-fined-towel-20160129-story.html

 

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5 thoughts on “Woman’s Mystery Pain? Oops. Surgical Tool Was Left Inside Her for 3 Months

  1. Ron Slade, Pharm.D. says:

    I was talking with some friends in the hospital lab one day, when one of them asked if I could identify the white spherical object they had placed in a mortar— larger than a golf ball, chalky white, spherical, with what looked like the end of a drainage tube hanging out one end of it.
    The drainage tube had been left inside the bladder after a previous surgery surgery, apparently, long enough to have formed a large calcification.
    I asked, “Was the patient notified of the problem?” They looked at me as if had been chosen dummy of the week. The unspoken word in that hospital was “What you hear here, what you see here, stays here when you leave here”

  2. Donna says:

    I had a suture left in my abdominal area for 10 years and it caused a lot of discomforts but was buried among scar tissue. A serious infection took over and it took 3 surgeries to figure it out. I can’t imagine a pair of scissors left behind. Geeez!

    • Ron Slade, Pharm.D. says:

      I know they apologized profusely, then offered to reduce your bill to zero?

      • Donna says:

        HA! After 2-1/2 years, I am still wrestling with their collection agency. A whole other nightmare. The original surgeon had retired and my “medical team” from the same hospital, showed some disgust with having to clean up after him but remained professional. They were frustrated, stumped and overwhelmed with my medical history and did show concern and empathy. I did speak with a few lawyers who would not take my case but did say they were sorry. 🙂 I can’t say I am totally okay but I am still here. I appreciate the knowledge I have gained from the Paramedic Heretic and your input. Shocking!

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