Patient’s legal action after needle left in leg

Jeanette Brazil who suffers from cerebral palsy, had her condition worsened after a hypodermic needle was left in her ankle after an operation.
Jeanette Brazil who suffers from cerebral palsy, had her condition worsened after a hypodermic needle was left in her ankle after an operation.
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A disabled woman was left with a hypodermic needle in her leg after a hospital operation.

Cerebral palsy sufferer Jeanette Brazil, 50, of Bancroft Avenue, Thornton, has demanded an apology from Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust after the bungle at Royal Preston Hospital in September last year.

Miss Brazil had an operation to lengthen tendons in her ankle, but after a prolonged period of pain after the operation, found a needle head had been left in her ankle after surgery.

The incident is classed as an ‘NHS never event’ – serious, largely preventable patient safety incidents which should never happen if preventative measures have been implemented.

Miss Brazil said: “I had my rehab after surgery and got told it was a success and I needed no further treatment.

“When I got home I started to suffer more – it started to swell and really be painful. It felt when I put my foot to the floor like something was sticking out.”

After visiting her doctor, she was sent for an x-ray, which revealed a “foreign object” in her ankle.

She went to hospital where she said the surgeon had suggested it was a needle she had stood on, but after closer inspection, decided to operate.

She added: “I had further surgery in December to remove it and he did come to me and admit the end of a hypodermic needle was found.

“I stayed overnight and was allowed home the next day. Before I went a member of the governors team came to see me and to say there was a full investigation.

“I knew something had gone badly wrong.”

In a letter sent to the 50-year-old in January by a doctor from her rehabilitation team, it admitted an investigation into the incident had “concluded that our Trust is at fault here.”

After the second operation, Miss Brazil contacted JMW, a legal firm, to help pursue a claim.

Judith Farrow, medical negligence solicitor at JMW, said: “Jeanette is already coping with a severe disability so this incident has been extremely distressing for her.

“Leaving foreign objects inside patients during surgery is completely unacceptable and can have very serious consequences.”

Karen Partington, chief executive at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Firstly we would like to sincerely apologise for any distress that has been caused to Mrs Brazil. Our priority is to always provide excellent care with compassion for our patients and we regret that we failed to deliver the standard of care expected on this occasion. There is always a risk associated with surgery.

“However, we take all precautions possible to minimise risk, and we have in place robust procedures which are rigorously implemented and continuously reviewed to ensure that the safety of patients is maintained throughout their treatment. All staff involved in providing care are appropriately skilled, fully trained and qualified, and their performance is constantly monitored.We have carried out a thorough investigation, reviewed our practice and we have carried out additional training to try to prevent a similar incident in the future.”