A British mom has been awarded thousands of dollars after doctors left a medical swab inside her for three days following the birth of her child.
Paige Balding, 20, was diagnosed with sepsis after she gave birth to her son Hunter Jae on July of last year.
A tribunal found medics failed to realize that a 7.87 inches by 7.87 inches medical swab was left inside her, causing her to contract sepsis.
She was awarded a 4,000 pounds ($5,093) cash settlement.
Sepsis is a life-threatening illness caused by the body’s response to an infection.
It develops when the chemicals the immune system releases into the bloodstream to fight an infection cause inflammation throughout the entire body instead.
During the birth at Badilson Hospital in Essex, Balding says she was given a medical swab to reduce bleeding during labor.
She says that doctors at the hospital had forgotten the swab was still inside her and only discovered it three days later.
Balding, who is also a mother to a 4-year-old daughter, says the infection was passed onto her newborn as well.
“They should have picked it up before it was passed to my son,” she said.
“I couldn’t believe it, and the doctor blamed it on the fact that he was tired. You can’t nearly kill two people and blame it on the fact you were tired.”
Balding, from Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, went into labor on July 19.
The following day Balding had her water broken because doctors found she was 4 centimeters (1.57 inches) dilated — Hunter was born at 4.51 p.m. on July 20.
She added: “When he was born, he wasn’t breathing so they took him away to resuscitate him. After that, my body felt like it was shutting down and I had no idea why.
“I couldn’t keep my eyes open and was going in and out of consciousness for about two hours. I woke up and asked what was going on and they told me I had septicemia.”
Balding was moved to a different ward to recover but days later, she was still in distress.
“I started getting discomfort and I had no clue what it was,” she said. “The midwife told me that it was just the stitches from when I had given birth so I trusted her.
“The pain went on and got progressively worse and I told the staff they needed to check it because I could feel something there and again was told it was just the stitches.
“It got to the point where I couldn’t sit down and I was in so much pain.
“I went in the toilet and that’s when I realized I could definitely feel something there. I was absolutely disgusted with what I found.”
Balding then asked again if the midwife could take a look.
“When she examined me, she looked like she was going to faint and rushed off to get a consultant after telling me not to move,” Balding said.
Medics then recovered a surgical swab that had been left in her since she gave birth.
Balding, who is engaged to Hunter’s father, Chris Alexander, 20, said: “They pulled the swab out of me and then from that point they started a serious investigation called a ‘never event.’”
Never events are serious, largely preventable safety incidents that should not occur if the available preventative measures are implemented.
They include wrong-site surgery or foreign objects left in a person’s body after an operation.
She was treated with antibiotics and discharged herself from the hospital so she could take her baby, who had now recovered, home.
“I thought I just had to discharge myself from here. I couldn’t trust them anymore,” Balding said.
“They didn’t even argue with me because they knew how bad it was me being in there. I just said I will not stay in here another minute.”
Balding is now trying to raise awareness and is urging women to trust their “gut feeling if something doesn’t feel right.”
“You don’t think it will happen to you until it does. And then when it happens to you, you think it can happen to anybody.
“You need to go with your gut instinct. If I can save one person’s life or the life of a baby it will make what happened to me more worth it.
“No amount of money can replace a life. You can’t buy mine and my son’s life.”
Balding’s son Hunter is doing “really well” now and is ” just like any other 10-month-old baby.” But Balding said the whole experience has made her think twice about having another child.
“I would have loved more children but I just couldn’t even think about it now,” she said.
A spokesperson from Basildon Hospital said: “We regret that the normally outstanding standard of care that our maternity service is recognized for was not provided on this occasion.
“The quality of care we offer and the experience our patients have of our services is our highest priority, as is learning the lessons from incidents and using them as an opportunity to improve our care.
“The Trust is pleased that the parties have reached a settlement agreement, and wishes the family all the very best for the future.”