Case study: swab left inside body following caesarean section

Compensation: £5,500

Mary, Bristol

JMW was able to obtain £5,500 in compensation for a woman who suffered significant distress after a foreign object was left inside her body during surgery.

Mary, 38, was unable to bond with her new baby son and was traumatised for several months after a surgeon left a surgical swab in her abdomen following a caesarean section. This is an NHS ‘never event’, a term given by the health service to incidents that should never be allowed to happen when the necessary preventative steps are taken.

Mary’s case was taken on by one of the medical negligence experts at JMW, who secured an admission of negligence from the hospital trust and £5,500 in compensation.

A missing swab ignored by the surgeon

Mary decided to opt for a caesarean section when she became pregnant with her son as she had a family history of traumatic births and wanted to make sure that this did not happen to her.

The operation proceeded as normal and Mary gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Following delivery, in the post-surgical count, a nurse noted that a surgical swab was missing and clearly informed the surgeon. Theatre staff searched for the missing swab, but it could not be found. Nursing staff raised the concern that the swab may have been left inside Mary, and that it should be located prior to the completion of the procedure.

Instead, the surgeon insisted that he would not have left the swab inside the patient and continued to close the surgical wound. The theatre staff told the surgeon they were unhappy with this action but the surgeon arrogantly insisted that he was going to close the patient anyway and then have her X-rayed at a later stage.

Further operation to remove the swab

Subsequently the X-ray revealed that the swab had indeed been left inside Mary’s abdomen and she was later given the distressing news that she would have to undergo a further operation to remove it. During this operation, Mary’s blood pressure fell and she required a blood transfusion, leading to a prolonged stay in hospital and subsequent problems bonding with her baby.


After contacting the team at JMW for advice, Mary’s case was taken on by a specialist clinical negligence solicitor who challenged the unprofessional actions of the surgeon. The hospital trust admitted he acted negligently and agreed to pay Mary £5,500 to help her to cope with her ordeal.

If you have suffered from having a piece of medical equipment left inside you during surgery, contact the expert team at JMW today to find out if you can make a claim. Call us on 0800 054 6512 or fill in our contact form.


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