Woman says surgical clip found inside her body has been there since 1997 operation – as she takes action against hospital

A woman who claims a metal surgical staple was accidentally left in her body after surgery more than 20 years ago is taking legal action.

Rouba Naboulsi, 48, claims the small metal clip was forgotten by surgeons when they sewed her up after a routine gallbladder removal in 1997 at Auburn Hospital Sydney‘s west.

The object went unnoticed in her abdomen and eventually her rectum until an MRI in December 2020 that had to be aborted due to a metal object, according to documents tendered to the NSW Supreme Court on Wednesday.

The respondents β€” administrators at Auburn Hospital β€” say the clip could have been left there because of a series of C-section births instead of the 1997 operation.

Ms Naboulsi said she started experiencing excruciating pain in her abdomen in 2003, but despite going to a number of doctors they were baffled as to what the problem might be until her GP recommended the MRI.

β€œTo this day, I still have pain in my lower right abdomen,” she wrote in her statement to the court.

‘The pain prevents me from bending or kneeling to pray. Besides, I can’t sit for long.’

Ms. Naboulsi also wrote that doctors advised her that removing the clip would be difficult and cost about $12,000.

She is suing the administrators of Auburn Hospital Western Sydney Local Health District for damages.

Surgeon Dr. Peter Conrad also provided an affidavit stating that there was “very clear evidence” that a fragment had been lost during the 1997 proceedings.

β€œA laparoscopic clip escaped from the applicator during the procedure, fell into the peritoneal cavity and was not recovered by surgeons,” he wrote.

He submitted evidence showing the same complication in other patients.

In response, the Western Sydney Local Health District argued that Ms Naboulsi had had numerous caesarean section deliveries which could also have resulted in a clip being accidentally left behind.

They also argued that Ms Naboulsi had no independent ‘support’ that the clip had caused ‘any injury or impairment’, and given the amount of time that had passed since the gallbladder removal in 1997, there was no way to know which operation the clip was related to. .

After hearing the arguments, judge Monika Schmidt ruled in favor of the case.

The two sides were told to return with brief comments within fourteen days.