Nut left in woman’s body during spinal surgery

Nut left in woman’s body during spinal surgery
Karen Arukesamy

KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 29, 2009): A private hospital here left a nut in a woman’s body during spine surgery with metal implants using nuts and bolts last year.

Victim Tan Khai Yien 29 and Datuk Michael Chong showing the x-ray during
the press conference at Michael Chong office this morning.
“I am disappointed with the negligence and irresponsibility of the doctor in treating my injury,” Tan Khai Yien, 29, told a press conference at the MCA Public Complaints Department today.

Relating her experience, Tan said she underwent surgery to treat a spine injury in October 2008 after she was involved in a car accident.

“After the surgery, the orthopaedic surgeon informed me that a nut had accidentally fallen into the operated area, very close to my spine where the metal implant was placed,” she said.

“However, the surgeon assured me that the nut is not harmful and can be removed together with the fixture of the metal implant a year later without complications,” she said, showing her x-rays and CT scan to reporters.

In October, a day before Tan’s scheduled surgery to remove the metal implant, the surgeon claimed that the fallen nut, which has shifted from its original position, could not be removed as it is located very close to a blood vessel.

Only the metal implant was removed while the fallen nut remained in around her spine.

“The doctor told us there was nothing else he could do. When my family and I said it was his mistake and he had given an assurance to remove it, he refused to do so,” Tan said.

“When we said we could take legal action against him and the hospital, the doctor said we could go ahead and sue him but we will only be wasting our time.”

Dissatisfied with the orthopaedic surgeon’s response, Tan sought a second opinion at Gleneagles Hospital here and was advised to undergo surgery to remove the nut.

“The doctor, who asked me to do a CT scan, said the nut is only 1cm away from my blood vessel and since it is moving in that area, it may very harmful to me later on,” she said.

“We did not know who to turn to after the surgeon washed his hands over the case, so we sought MCA’s help and spoke to Datuk Michael Chong,” she added.

Chong said Tan’s family is considering legal action against the doctor and the hospital but a decision can only be made after Tan’s operation, scheduled tomorrow, to remove the nut.

He added that he will raise the matter with the health minister.

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