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Hospital 'sorry' for accident with syringe

By Wang Qingyun (China Daily)

09:24, April 23, 2012

A man who swallowed the barrel of a doctor's syringe during a routine hospital operation stands to receive 60,000 yuan ($9,500) in compensation.

Zhang Hua, a company manager, underwent an operation under general anesthetic on March 22 to remove polyps from his nose at the First People's Hospital in Yichang, a city in Central China's Hubei province.

"When I came round after the anesthetic had worn off, I had an awful pain in my throat," Zhang recalled.

Because he had difficulty speaking, he wrote on a piece of paper that his throat hurt, and gave it to his wife to bring to the attention of the surgeon.

"The doctor told me the pain was a normal reaction after the operation," Zhang said. "But my mouth was filling with blood and needed to be wiped clean every now and again."

Four hours later he got out of bed and vomited, Zhang told China Daily on Sunday.

"After vomiting some blood, I felt something stick in my mouth. It was covered in blood, and I threw it in a trash can before I realized it was a syringe barrel."

The hospital released a statement at the weekend, saying that when surgeons removed a tube during the operation, they had placed a syringe barrel in Zhang's mouth to extract phlegm and to prevent him biting himself. "Head management at the hospital have visited the patient many times and expressed their apologies to him and his family," the statement said.

After an investigation, an anesthetist is believed to be at fault for not removing the syringe barrel after surgery.

"As a result, the syringe barrel slid into the patient's esophagus before he regained full consciousness," the statement said.

The hospital said it has suspended the anesthetist from duty.

Zhang does not entirely accept the hospital's explanation.

"I consulted an anesthetist, who told me that a syringe barrel is usually used to prop up the mouth so the patient doesn't break the ventilator's tube. I was told it should be part of the tube," he said.

But Zhi Xiuyi, dean of the department of thoracic surgery at Xuanwu Hospital in Beijing, said he has never seen a syringe barrel used for this purpose.

"We use teeth cushions under these circumstances," he said.

Zhang, who says his throat is much better, said he entrusted his wife's cousin, who is a lawyer, to talk to the hospital about compensation.

Following meetings with the mediation board for medical treatment disputes, the hospital has "agreed in principle" to pay Zhang 60,000 yuan in compensation.


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