Two cancer patients had small metal parts left in body after surgery, Hong Kong Hospital Authority reveals

Error was discovered after Queen Elizabeth Hospital reviewed patients’ X-ray images

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 July, 2017, 10:20am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 July, 2017, 10:20am

Two cancer patients at Queen Elizabeth Hospital were found to have had small metal parts from a new medical device left in their bodies after surgery since as long ago as last year, it emerged on Thursday.

In the first case, a patient underwent surgical procedures during chemotherapy last year and this year in which a new model of implantable long-dwelling catheter was inserted through the left and right side of the neck, a Hospital Authority spokesman said.

A routine review of the patient’s chest X-ray images on an unspecified date showed that a segment of metal stylet – a thin probe – had been left in the right side of the patient’s heart region. The stylet should have been removed after the catheter was taken out.

A further check found that another metal stylet, belonging to the catheter inserted through the left side, was also not removed.

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The authority did not release the dates of the surgical procedures or when the retained stylets were detected.

After the incident, the hospital reviewed X-ray images for five other patients using the same model of catheter. It found that a second cancer patient also had a metal stylet left inside them. The hospital did not provide details of the second case.

The authority said it had arranged a check-up for the patients involved and had their catheters removed. They were later discharged.

It added that the incidents had not affected the effects of the chemotherapy.

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A panel will be set up to investigate and will submit a report to the Hospital Authority in eight weeks, the spokesman said.

The hospital introduced the new catheter model last year. It can be inserted into a patient’s body for continuous and repeated drug infusion. The inner metal stylet, which supports the catheter, should be removed after the insertion of the device.

“The hospital is very concerned about safety of both patients and medical products and will contact the manufacturer for further information,” the spokesman said.

The authority issued a safety alert on Thursday to remind its staff to be alert and evaluate their procedures for using the device.