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Swab left inside a woman's body following surgery

A swab was left inside a woman’s body after she underwent surgery at an East Lancashire General Hospital.

The incident prompted hospital bosses to launch an external review of East Lancashire Hospital Trust’s surgical procedures and has now recommended a purple band system to prevent a repeat of the incident, called a “never event.”

Patients who have swab packs inserted will wear a purple wristband for each one so they can be counted as they are removed. Swabs are routinely used to contain and stop bleeding associated with surgery and depending on the extent of the bleeding and the specific surgery site, the swabs may remain in the body for 24-48 hours after an operation.

It is essential to make sure that all swabs are removed carefully as they can cause serious infection if left inside a wound. In the case of this never event, one swab was left in situ too long but hospital chiefs would not say how long it was there for.

The Trust said it could not disclose any more information about the incident to protect patient confidentiality.