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Patient Wins Damages After 'Never Event'

A liver transplant patient has won compensation of £7,000 after doctors failed to remove a surgical mat after performing the operation – termed a ‘never event’ because it is a hospital incident that should never occur.

Michael O’Sullivan, 49, experienced severe abdominal pain following liver transplant surgery at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge in September 2011. Three weeks after the operation, a CT scan showed abnormal results and he underwent a further, exploratory operation. It was discovered that an A4-sized silicon mat, known as a lapromat, had been left inside him following the original operation. The fish-shaped mats are used to protect the bowel during the operation and should be removed afterwards.

The hospital conducted an investigation, which revealed that a series of basic failures in recording the use of medical equipment during Mr O’Sullivan’s surgery had led to the error. Staff had not correctly recorded that an item from the instrument set had been used, and had failed to ‘count out’ the instruments used after the operation had been completed.

Mr O’Sullivan brought a claim for compensation against Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which was responsible for the hospital. The Trust agreed to pay him £7,000 in damages.

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