Snow dome among items removed from Scots patients

A snow dome like this one was removed from a patient. Picture: Complimentary
A snow dome like this one was removed from a patient. Picture: Complimentary
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A CHRISTMAS snow dome, razor blades, batteries and a light bulb were among a collection of items removed from inside patients attending Scotland’s hospitals.

Documents obtained under freedom of information legislation have revealed some of the most unusual discoveries by medical staff over the past three years.

An average of nine people a week have required treatment or assistance after such objects were discovered. Coins, beads, toys, chunks of metal and scourer sponges are some of the items that have been ­removed.

In total, more than 1,400 procedures were carried out on items lodged inside the body.

NHS data also reveals a number of the incidents were not of the patients’ doing – with swabs and drill pieces having been accidentally left behind during operations.

Scottish Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw, the party’s health spokesman, said he had concerns that the behaviour of some “reckless” patients could be putting additional pressure on hospitals.

He said: “Clearly some of these will be as a result of freak accidents which no-one could have foreseen or ­predicted.

“In those cases, we are very fortunate to have a skilled NHS ready to deal with them.

“However, when these items have been consumed as an act of stupidity or recklessness, people have to take responsibility. If they are not going to think of their own safety, they could at least appreciate the unnecessary strain this places on an already stretched NHS.”

The figures show at least 1,462 people have attended hospital since 2010, having deliberately or accidentally ingested an item, with NHS Ayrshire and Arran and NHS Western Isles recording the highest instances.

Officials in Ayrshire and Arran provided no information on the type of treatment given, but doctors in the Western Isles saw patients with Lego blocks stuck in their noses, beads in their ears and shampoo lids on their lips.

In Forth Valley, where 217 people required assistance, razor blades, glass, wood, and a light bulb were among the items retrieved by medical staff.

Among the 67 objects found inside patients in the Borders were coins, batteries, tiddly winks, a glass snow dome, a sex toy, and two scourer sponges. Incidents involving food were common within NHS Orkney, where glass and metal was also retrieved.

The documents reveal four NHS boards in Scotland made 21 operational blunders between them with items being accidentally left inside patients following procedures.

In the Borders a drill piece was left in a patient’s foot in 2012 and the tip of a drill left in another person’s shoulder in 2013, while in NHS Highland, swabs, a drill tip and a lateral fixation pin were found inside patients after operations

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said seven incidents involving “a swab, nylon tape or disposable surgical device” being left inside patients had taken place in hospitals since 2010.

Nine patients have been discharged from hospitals in neighbouring NHS Lanarkshire with swabs still inside their bodies over the past three years.

Officials at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde admitted systems to prevent such medical blunders had failed.

A spokesman said: “As a result of these incidents there have been awareness notices distributed to the service, procedural changes, documentation changes, audits and high-level discussion with the organisation to review procedures and systems.”

A statement from NHS Lanarkshire said staff are encouraged to report incidents of errors taking place in order to develop new action plans.
It added: “We have stringent checking processes within theatres to ensure that no foreign objects are inadvertently left in a patient cavity.”

The Scotland Patients Association did not respond to calls.