Large rotting swabs left in woman during C-section birth

Large rotting swabs left in woman during C-section birth

Originally published on Stuff

Bandages weighing up to 1 kilogram were left inside a Christchurch woman's uterus after a Caesarean-section birth, shaking her trust in the health system.

Five days after the birth of her son on October 8, Chloe Youngson, 33, noticed gauze "trying to exit my body" while having a shower.

She was rushed to hospital where a doctor removed a large and rotting bandage.

"It was sickening to see how much there was and I think I was just in disbelief."

Youngson's case was among 82 "adverse events" reported by Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) to the Health Quality and Safety Commission this year.

It has prompted an apology from the CDHB and a review of how it documents the type of post-surgery procedure she underwent.

Youngson was admitted to Christchurch Hospital on September 14 for placenta previa – when the placenta is low in the uterus and the risk of haemorrhage is high. 

After the birth, she reported excruciating stomach pain, but was told it was probably gas or nerve pain. 

"It was just really upsetting to think that I wasn't really listened to properly.

"It's just left me feeling quite anxious and not having much trust in the hospital or health care."

Youngson said the doctor who removed the rotting bandages appeared "disgusted" and "appalled", and encouraged her to file a complaint, which she did. 

In a letter, clinical director of obstetrics and gynaecology Dr Emma Jackson explained staff placed a Bakri balloon with two "vaginal packs" inside Youngson's uterus to help stop the bleeding, which started during the procedure.

"The insertion of the packs was documented by nursing staff in theatre and recovery and the midwife in recovery," the letter said.

"They were not however documented on the operation note." 

The Bakri balloon was deflated and removed the next day, but the vaginal packs were not.

Jackson apologised in the letter for the "discomfort and distress" caused. There appeared to be a lack of documentation and communication between members of the medical team, and the unit was "looking at ways to improve" its procedures.

She offered a contact phone number if Youngson wanted to discuss the letter in more detail.

Youngson said the letter was inadequate and it was "bizarre" the DHB did not offer support, including counselling. 

It was not the only thing that went wrong during her hospital stay. 

She had gestational diabetes, which can be managed with a diet low in carbohydrates and sugar, but Youngson said she often had to remind staff of her dietary needs. She was regularly given inappropriate, high carbohydrate foods such as potatoes. 

Youngson said she twice developed infections in her arm where an IV line was inserted and left in for too long. A 6cm blood clot formed on one arm. 

When Youngson shared her story on social media she was surprised how many women felt they were not listened to.   

"I feel like it's my duty to advocate for other women and patients ... for their voices to be heard."

Eight years earlier, Youngson said she suffered anxiety after an emergency forceps delivery of her first son when the epidural IV line "fell out" without hospital staff realising. 

"You really do feel like you are just a number in the system and they really don't see the lifelong impacts of what that kind of stuff can do."

The CDHB could not respond to additional questions about Youngson's care or the review of its procedures before deadline.

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