Image: X-ray
Rob Griffith  /  AP
An X-ray shows the 6.7 inch pair of surgical scissors in the abdomen of 69-year-old Pat Skinner of Sydney, Australia on April 20.
updated 4/20/2004 2:22:27 PM ET 2004-04-20T18:22:27

A Sydney woman demanded an explanation Tuesday from a hospital where a pair of scissors were left in her abdomen after surgery and said she planned to sue.

Pat Skinner, 69, had part of her colon removed at Sydney’s St. George Hospital in May 2001. But she said that she continued to suffer intense pain in her abdomen for months after the operation.

Eventually, she demanded doctors x-ray her abdomen. They did and discovered the 6.7-inch pair of scissors, which were removed in October 2002.

“It was like a nightmare seeing those scissors up on the screen,” Skinner told Sky News television Tuesday. “It was very, very traumatic and extremely painful.”

The hospital has apologized to Skinner for the accident, but Tuesday she said plans to take legal action, although she did not provide any details.

A hospital spokeswoman told The Associated Press that lawyers for both sides were currently meeting and discussing the matter.

The incident was reported to the Health Care Complaints Commission, but no disciplinary action was taken against the surgeon or the four other staffers who operated on Skinner, said the hospital’s chief executive, David Pearce.

“Basically, the advice to ... Mrs. Skinner is that we couldn’t explain how a pair of 6.7-inch scissors was left in her abdomen,” Pearce told Sydney radio station 2GB Tuesday.

“We have put this down to human error. I’ve been executive director here for four years, and in that time we’ve done something like 40,000 operations and this is the first time this incident has occurred.”

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