Father in agony for eight months after bungling surgery staff leave 19in swab inside his body

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UPDATED:

15:00 GMT, 23 April 2012

A father was left in agony for nearly eight months, after surgeons left an 18inch swab inside his body.

Ian Smith is taking legal action over the blunder, which happened when he had surgery for bowel cancer at Sandwell Hospital, in the West Midlands.

'This has ruined my life,' the 60-year-old said.

'It’s a miracle I didn’t die from blood poisoning.'

Ian Smith said his wife Christine had to give up her job as a bus driver to take care of him following the bungled surgery

Ian Smith said his wife Christine had to give up her job as a bus driver to take care of him following the bungled surgery

Ian lost three stone and was in agony following surgery, yet he said medics still failed to spot the swab – even though he was admitted back into hospital a month after the operation.

It was not until a district nurse saw a piece of plastic sticking out of the wound that it was finally discovered – more than seven months after Mr Smith's original operation.

Sandwell Hospital has apologised but the couple are now waiting for a payout over the so-called 'never event' – a government term to describe errors that should never happen.

Ian, who had to give up work as a coach driver, said: 'I can’t work or leave the house for very long. I find walking a struggle and I suffer from depression as a result. I can’t do anything.'

Mr Smith lost three stone after the operation and says he still struggles to walk

Mr Smith lost three stone after the operation and says he still struggles to walk

The father-of-one from West Bromwich said he first knew something was wrong when his wound began leaking more than two weeks after the surgery.

'At first I felt very sore and rough but thought that was normal,' he said.

'Soon afterwards the wound opened up and liquid came pumping out.
I was rushed to hospital and they kept me in for a week, giving me antibiotics through a drip.

'They did X-rays but found nothing. I was unable to eat and felt sick but I was eventually discharged again.'

Mr Smith's weight plunged and he had no appetite.

'The wound continued to leak and they even sent a district nurse daily to change the dressing,' he added.

'Then one day the nurse saw some plastic poking out. I was taken to hospital and I remember the doctor calling the consultant who had done the surgery.

'He pulled out this very long swab, quickly put it into a plastic bag and disposed of it.

'I was in so much pain that I didn’t really register what had happened at first.'

Ian Smith reveals his scar. A swab was left inside him after surgery for bowel cancer

Ian Smith reveals his scar. A swab was left inside him after surgery for bowel cancer

Mr Smith was treated at Sandwell General Hospital

Mr Smith was treated at Sandwell General Hospital

It wasn’t until his bus driver wife Christine, 62, complained to the Patient Advice and Liason Service that they eventually received an apology.

'I feel very angry about what’s happened,' said Mr Smith.

'It’s affected my life and I had to have a blood transfusion because the swab had affected my white blood cell count.

'Christine has had to give up work to look after me and our income has been drastically reduced.'

A spokeswoman from Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust said: 'We are aware of Mr Smith’s claim and thoroughly investigated his complaint.

'On completion of our investigations into the complaint, we apologised for the error. The NHS Litigation Authority is talking to his solicitors regarding his claim.'