Gauze blunders at Prince of Wales Hospital sparks review

Interns stitching up new mums will be closely watched after dressing was left inside 4 women

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 October, 2012, 3:18am

Interns should not be allowed to stitch new mothers' wounds until the procedure has been checked by two other staff members, a review has recommended.

The report came after gauze was left inside four women who had just given birth at the Prince of Wales Hospital.

Three of the women were stitched up by an intern at the Sha Tin public hospital in June. An experienced resident physician treated the fourth woman.

The report was written by a committee of doctors from the hospital.

It suggests two medical employees should count and double check the number of gauze used when stitches are required to ensure all are accounted for.

It also says the form used for recording the procedure should be clearer.

Some women giving birth require stitches due to tearing or incisions made by doctors. Any gauze left behind can cause infection.

If the gauze is not removed within a week, the patient runs the risk of potentially fatal blood poisoning.

Problems concerning the intern's three patients were noticed when they went for post-natal check-ups and the gauze was removed.

The report says the intern ignored the usual procedures keeping track of gauze.

The intern was also at fault for not checking the number of pieces involved, but signed off on the form anyway.

In the case of the resident physician, he was said to have been too busy dealing with the difficult birth of an underweight baby born with a weak heart using vacuum extraction.

None of the woman suffered long-term complications and did not need further check-ups.

The Prince of Wales Hospital said it had accepted the investigation's findings and the panel's recommendations.

A series of changes had been implemented and the report had been submitted to the head office of the Hospital Authority.

It also said follow-up action would be taken according to established human resources procedures.

"The hospital wishes to express its sincere apology to the affected patients once again," a statement said.