Needle ‘Forgotten’ in Patient’s Abdomen


By Moses Magadza


If a man goes into theatre for an operation, somebody ‘forgets’ an apparatus used during the surgery in his abdomen, he is sewn up, discharged and only discovers the tool in his stomach years after, who is responsible for its removal? Who is liable for the bungling – the doctor, the nurse or the hospital?

A Namibian man who went through this ordeal thinks the doctor and the hospital are liable and this is the question that will preoccupy the High Court in Namibia when it sits to hear his case.

The man (name supplied) is suing a doctor and a local hospital for gross negligence, pain and suffering after a needle used during surgery was ‘forgotten’ in his abdomen in 2004.

The needle is still lodged in his abdomen and he might have to carry it around until the legal wrangle over who should be held liable for the bungling has subsided.

So far, all the involved parties have been passing the buck.

The man checked into a Windhoek hospital with severe abdominal pain and a doctor at the hospital recommended surgery. He consented to the operation on November 23, 2004 and was operated on the next day.

A doctor (name supplied) performed the operation, assisted by one nurse.

The patient was discharged and for many months, he felt fine save for a prickling pain in his abdomen. On May 29, 2006, he consulted a different doctor (name supplied) who, after performing an X-ray examination, told him he had a needle in his abdomen and that it would cost him approximately N$300?


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