A THEATRE nurse was left “dumbfounded” to hear that blundering surgeons removed her appendix eight years ago without her permission.
Anne Marie Hickey only found out she had the organ removed when she went in for a new operation for suspected appendicitis.
Surgeons were left baffled when they couldn’t find the 47-year-old’s appendix and reached the conclusion that it must have been removed by a previous medical team in 2002 when she underwent a pancreas and kidney transplant.
But Anne feels that it was “outrageous” that NHS Lothian has allowed the mistake to go unreported.
She said: “Initially they said categorically that it hadn’t been removed. I was dumbfounded. They said there was no appendix and it was a mystery.
“Removing part of somebody’s anatomy should be documented. The first thing we are taught is to document everything – and that’s as a nurse not as a doctor.
“I’ve never heard of anything like this before.”
Ms Hickey from Inverness was suffering severe stomach pain and doctors suggested she had appendicitis.
But while on the operating table at Raigmore Hospital medical staff found that Anne’s appendix was missing.
She was transferred to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and had to endure a further ten days of agonising pain while medical staff deliberated on her condition before realising her pancreas transplant had failed.
Anne said: “I had an unnecessary operation. The signs of appendicitis were all there apparently but if it was in my notes they would have known straight away that it couldn’t have been that.
“It’s ridiculous and outrageous.”
Anne’s torment did not stop there as a string of NHS Lothian staff blunders led to further pain and embarrassment.
ERI medics were forced to remove the failed pancreas from the orginal transplant which left Anne with diabetes – she also suffered a heart attack during this operation.
The during her recovery she needed the assistance of two nurses to go to the toilet but only one would actually help her.
She fell to the floor and was forced to undergo skin-grafts after an accumulation of blood in her leg burst.
Ms Hickey lodged a complaint to the Scottish public services ombudsman who upheld her argument.
Recommendations regarding transplant protocol, communication and the investigation of complaints have been made to NHS Lothian.
The ombudsman said that health bosses failure to record the removal of the appendix was “unreasonable” and was compounded by the failure to inform both Anne and her GP.
It was also ruled that health chiefs failed to explain the catastrophic error.
Melanie Hornett, nurse director for NHS Lothian, who referred to Anne as ‘Mrs A’ said that she was just the victim of a routine procedure.
She said: “We accept the ombudsman’s recommendations in full and we have already put them into practice. Some units routinely remove the appendix during a pancreas transplant, while others do not.
“We agree that it is imperative that the information is documented and we have written to all transplant surgeons to request that it is noted to prevent a similar incident from happening again.
“As a result of Mrs A’s fall, moving and handling policies have been reviewed, the importance of reading individual care plans and listening to patients has been reiterated to nursing staff.”