Today in nightmare fuel, we have a curious case out of New Zealand in which an unnamed patient's doctors found a surgical instrument the size of a dinner plate inside her abdomen — a whopping 18 months after the initial surgery during which it was apparently misplaced.
In a report, the country's health and disability commissioner Morag McDowell explained the terrifying incident in which a woman in her mid-20s had a scheduled Caesarian section, only for the Alexis wound retractor — a cylindrical mesh instrument which, as its name gorily but accurately describes, peels back the skin around a wound such as the one needed in a C-section — to be left behind after her doctors sewed her back up.
The C-section, the report noted, happened back in 2020, but the wound retractor wasn't discovered until a year and a half later in 2021, when the woman had a CT scan around her abdomen. In the interim, she visited her general practitioner "a number of times" while experiencing chronic and increasingly severe pain around her stomach.
Eventually, the woman went to the emergency room at the same Auckland hospital where she'd given birth, though it's unclear if that's where the instrument was finally discovered.
The C-section and the wound retractor were, as the hospital told the NZ health department, necessary because of complications during the pregnancy and due to the woman's "elevated maternal body mass." Reading between the lines, this suggests that the woman in question may have been overweight, and given that it's well-known that women in general and overweight people specifically receive poorer care based solely on lingering medical biases, there could be a possibility that her doctors didn't take her 18 months of chronic postpartum pain seriously because of her weight or gender.
Regardless, it's appalling not only that this woman became yet another example of surgical instruments left behind in patients' bodies, but that she suffered for more than a year without anyone doing much of anything about it.
This woman, and all the others who've experienced similar horrors, deserve way better — and hopefully, none of us will ever join their ranks.
More on surgery gone wrong: Hospital Refuses to Pause Surgeries After Finding Unknown Contaminants on Equipment Trays
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