A 30-year-old woman was awarded €140,000 damages after a vaginal swab was left inside her and remained undetected for almost three weeks, despite two visits to the National Maternity Hospital.
The swab was like a “mini-football”, it was claimed.
In the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said the trauma the hairdresser from Swords, Co Dublin, suffered because of the presence of the swab was “extreme”.
The judge noted that Claire Lalor from Swords was later diagnosed with a “significant infection”, as a result of unnecessary antibiotic treatment she had been earlier put on at the National Maternity Hospital before the swab was discovered.
Outside the court, Ms Lalor said: “I couldn’t be happier.” She said she can now get on with her life after “all the pain and suffering” she and her family had gone through and thanked her lawyers and family for their support.
“It made me feel helpless; these people telling me there was nothing wrong with me, when I knew there was something wrong. It was awful, absolutely awful,”she said.
The National Maternity Hospital had accepted liability for insertion of the swab and failure to detect it during two visits to the hospital. The case was before the High Court to assess damages.
The matter arose after Ms Lalor’s baby was delivered following a difficult birth on December 24, 2012. She was discharged on December 27 but went back to the hospital twice, on January 2 and January 9, 2013, on advice of public health nurses over concerns about pain and an odour from her lower body.
On neither occasion was she examined internally at the hospital and instead she was given antibiotics. When she attended a third time on January 16, Ms Lalor described the smell as “disgusting” and “horrible” and on that occasion she was examined internally and the swab was found.
Two days after the swab was removed, she was extremely ill and returned a fourth time to the hospital. A doctor advised that she was suffering from post-natal depression and she was “very angry” at that, as she clearly also had severe physical pain and distress from what had occurred.
She went home, and continued to suffer sweating, chills, fever, and diarrhoea and was unable to keep food down. She was taken to Beaumont Hospital where she was diagnosed with the infection.
The judge said Ms Lawlor was clearly entitled to compensation for the very significant physicalinjuries she suffered as a result of the National Maternity Hospital’s negligence.