A grandfather has spoken of his horror after ending up in hospital to have a serrated metal file removed from his stomach following a routine dental procedure.
Alexander Hoar, 74, visited Oasis Dental Practice for a low risk root canal surgery - but ended up in the hospital when the dentist accidentally dropped a file down his throat.
The grandfather-of-three had the one-inch long metal and plastic file stuck in his throat for several hours before surgeons could remove it.
But, by the time he made his way to hospital, the metal file had dropped down into Hoar's stomach and surgeons had to put an endoscopy tube and pincer down his throat to seize the file and pull it out of him.
Hoar, who is bringing a claim for compensation against the dental practice in Penzance, Cornwall, said he was overwhelmed with "absolute terror" as "all hell broke loose" the moment the one-inch long tool dropped to the back of his throat.
He has since tried to visit a different dentist to have the root canal treatment, but cries every time he enters the surgery due to the painful memories it evokes.
"It was traumatic and I felt like I was on my own," Hoar, of Penzance, said. "There was pandemonium in practice and they didn't seem prepared for this situation. All I could hear was the dentist saying 'Alec, Alec, I'm sorry,' she was in a worse state than I was."
"I've tried to go back for treatment since it happened but every time I go into a dentist I cry, it's embarrassing," he said.
The practice, which is now known as Bupa Penzance Dental Care Practice, said it had launched an investigation and had reviewed its procedures to help prevent it happening again.
The retired builder was sitting in the dentist’s chair with his head back and mouth wide open waiting for the next part of the surgery to take place when he spotted something dangling above his head.
He later learned that object was a root canal file, a thin piece of metal about an inch long with a serrated edge and attached to a plastic handle.
"A split second later it dropped down into my mouth and straight to the back of my throat," he said. "Then all hell broke loose. I was clutching at my throat and I began to gag while the dentist tried unsuccessfully to pluck the file back out. I had no idea at that stage what had happened or what was going on. No-one seemed to know what to do, I was terrified.”
His panic eased slightly when he realized he could breathe, but was still in extreme discomfort feeling the file lodged firmly in his throat.
"I kept trying to cough but it wouldn’t move and I was scared to swallow in case I pushed it further down my throat and into my stomach," he said.
After explaining to Hoar what had happened, the dental staff contacted the West Cornwall Hospital, then asked the pensioner if he could make his own way there.
"I was shocked they didn’t even think it was serious enough to call me an ambulance," he said. "To make matters worse, they said I had to make arrangements to find my own way to the hospital – they didn’t even see fit to escort me out of the building."
Thankfully one of Hoar’s sons wasn’t too far away and was able to collect his father and drive him to the hospital.
On arrival at the West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance he was refused an ambulance and after several hours and a trip to yet another hospital, he was finally seen by a consultant.
But, by then, the file had moved down his throat and into his stomach where it caused a small tear to his stomach lining which doctors had to repair during endoscopic surgery.
"I had to have a camera on the end of a pipe pushed up my nose and down my throat, which I had to endure three times," he said. "After they removed the file back out through my mouth they put a clip over the tear in my stomach. I’ve since been told the file could have caused a lot more damage to my stomach than it did, so for that I’m grateful."
Hoar returned home in the late afternoon after staying overnight in hospital recovering.
Hoar described the whole ordeal as “completely traumatizing” and “one of the worst experiences of my life”.
"No one should have to go through what I endured, but particularly a person at my stage in life, I feel like I was treated disgustingly,” he said.
"Our team acted quickly to make sure Mr. Hoar received medical attention following the unfortunate incident," Bupa Penzance Dental Care Practice said, in a statement. "We launched an investigation and we’ve reviewed our practice procedures to help prevent it happening again."