Doctor leaves gauze in patient's body in Sagamihara hospital


Officials at Sagamihara Chuo Hospital in Kanagawa Prefecture said Tuesday that a doctor left a piece of gauze in a patient's body after an operation last May.

According to officials, while performing surgery to remove a 39-year-old female patient's inflamed appendix, the doctor completed the operation successfully but forgot a small bit of gauze used during the procedure. The gauze was used during the procedure to assist the doctor in keeping the open site clean and free of visual obstructions.

TV Asahi reported Wednesday that when the woman came back for a follow-up examination, an X-ray exam revealed a small piece of the gauze inside the woman's body.

The hospital has made a formal apology to the woman, and is scheduled to perform an outpatient procedure to extract the gauze, officials said.

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The hospital has made a formal apology to the woman

You rarely see people, let alone an entire hospital admit to their mistake and apologize like this.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

The procedure should be free, and she should be paid for her extra pain and suffering.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The procedure will be supported by the hospital's insurance, she won't see any extra payment unless she sues and demonstrates her losses due to the pain and lost time. Then the insurance will pay that as well.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Living here in the UK, I have to laugh at the feeble attempts to dirty Japanese medical practice. Try living in London and see how you get on with the NHS in comparison. It's a minor miracle actually getting to see a doctor in the UK, let alone expect perfect treatment. The Japanese health system, which I experienced for 12 years, is fine.

8 ( +10 / -2 )


The Japanese health system, which I experienced for 12 years, is fine.

You were lucky...

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

@TigersTokyoDome So you're saying that this shouldn't be reported? I don't see it as an attempt to dirty anything. Quite the opposite. You know what they say about sunlight?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@shallots I don't think that is what he meant.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

shallots, I did not say that this story is acceptable in any way. But if you have read this news site over the years you would be aware of these headline shock stories about Japanese health care. In a population of 100 million unfortunately mistakes are going to be made. And in my experience the Japanese system is a good one.

Viking, in Japan I had to undergo a regular over-40's annual mens health check which is a national requirement and free. It is designed to save lives. In the UK they just cant be bothered with such a vital screening. In Tokyo my children had stringent health treatment. In London my children are told not to come into the surgery until the evening. In Tokyo you will always get seen that day. In London you need to make an appointment a couple of days in advance. Population of 100 million (good health service) versus population of 50 million (disgraceful health service).

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Report in the UK yesterday of a woman who found a glove inside her after a hysterectomy, plus a whole litany of medical errors over the last few years.

Interesting that very few of these hospitals follow the WHO surgical checklist - pre-op/ peri-op and post-op, with a designated theatre monitor to co-ordinate the checks. They've shown a 70% or more drop in surgical errors, and yet take very little time. The biggest obstacle is the god-like mentality of some of the surgeons who don't like to be questioned, yet they are the ones who make the mistakes. Every operating theatre should use them. There are some demo videos showing it working, and one that shows what happens when the surgical team do not talk to each other, and leave the patient without essential medication post-op.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This kind of thing happens in hospitals all over the world every day and this comparatively trivial incident would definitely not make it to the TV news (where Japan Today presumably found it) in the vast majority of countries. That this story did indeed become a nationally reported event in a country of 126 million people must be indicative of at least something a little positive about its health system.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Yes indeed, it is so frequent an occurrence that it rarely makes the news. Here's a snip from Wikipedia:

'The estimate of how often this type of mistake happens is unclear. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it is anywhere between 1 in 100 to 1 in 5000. However a study done in 2008 reported to the Annals of Surgery that mistakes in tool and sponge counts happened in 12.5% of surgeries'

Wow! I would trust Japanese surgery teams to beat those figures.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Japanese hospital: where patients go to die.


My fiancee's mother went in to have a liver tumor zapped with a laser and they let an intern do the procedure, which ended up burning a significant portion of the surrounding HEALTHY tissue!! After this, her health deteriorated both steadily and rapidly until her death a few months ago.

Out-patient service/treatment is decent enough, but I'll fly back to a States-side hospital before EVER accepting in-patient treatment here (assuming I can make it in time)!

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

That's why swabs are made X-ray detectable. Otherwise we'd never find them. One of the surgical assistants has the sole task of counting bits and pieces in and out of the patient. But they've usually been on shift for 36 hours or so...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

An apology? ROFL, try giving her free medical care by the very top doctors in each field of the hospital for the rest of her life and 100 million Yen so they are reminded of that doctor's and sugical staff's very stupid mistake.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

That's why you're supposed to count the stuff before you close. At least it isn't life threatening. There are mistakes made all over, but I've never had an issue with Japanese health care. Never had an issue with US health care. Never had to deal with the NHS though. If it's that bad you have to wonder what the ACA will do for the US system.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Agreed in this case the op-nurse mucked as prepares tools, etc in advantage. She also has to account for everything handed to the surgeron. Most surgeon also leave the stitching up to a nurse.

Speedy recovery.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Mistakes like this happen all around the world not just Japan. However it is nice at the hospital made an apology the lady should get it taken care of, yes she should have it paid for by the hospital she shouldnt have to pay for herself.

4 ( +4 / -0 )


" I'll fly back to a States-side hospital before EVER accepting in-patient treatment here"

Oh yeah, American is known for having excellent medical services LOL. I hear Obama care is going excellent and everybody is loving it in your home country.

Wake up, lots of people get crappy service in your country as well,

3 ( +5 / -2 )

In healthcare like most other areas, you make your own luck. That means checking references of surgeons and especially hospitals, asking surgeons how many of the particular procedure they do in a year, comparing the hospital infection rate to other places (should be public information), and reading up on whether the procedure they want to do on you is the best alternative. If you fail to do this, you put you life in the hands of a trillion-dollar industry that cares about you as an individual as much as a Las Vegas casino. After all that, it's still a gamble. In Okinawa I have had two excellent outcomes, but at the same time a friend is now in slow and painful recovery from an infection he got during routine knee surgery.

It's also good to bear in mind that there is a shortage of doctors in Japan and the one you get might not have been at the top of his graduating class, especially if you live in a rural area.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


I'm glad for you that you have received excellent service here in Japan. My "pseudo" may be "misleading" because I almost died giving birth in Japan (so did the baby...). My right leg is permanently maimed after several operations, most of them not only unnecessary but even the cause of probably never being able to ski again (I'm a ski instructor...) to mention only two of the many problems I have encountered here...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This happened to me when i had a head wound, The Dutch Hospital wasn't that apologetic.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japanese hospital save my life about 10 years ago, I can only say good things about the care here.

My over all experience with health system here has been positive bar one incident which in fact lead to the hospital having to save my life but that's another story.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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