Woman Coughs Up Gauze After Botched Tonsil Surgery

A New Zealand woman coughed up three pieces of bloody gauze two days after having her tonsils taken out, 3news.co.nz reported.

Hayley Wahapa was recovering at home from the routine operation when her sore throat closed on her.

“Everything I was eating on, drinking kept coming out of my nose, nothing would go down my actual throat and I just started having a bit of a coughing fit and dry retching and choking,” she said.

Her coughing fit cleared the three pieces of gauze stuck in her throat, which horrified her family doctor when she presented him with the bloody evidence.

“He asked me who did it and I said the surgeon at the hospital and he said, ‘are you sure, it looks like a student, it looks like a hack job; it hasn't been done properly’,” she said.

Last year, there were 308 cases in which something went wrong at a New Zealand hospital, but, an incident doesn’t have to be reported unless it can potentially result in permanent disability or death.

The Health and Disability Commission, which handles complaints regarding health care, received 853 complaints in the last year; 33 patients complained about general surgeons, and 627 complained about suffering an injury from surgery.

Wahapa is filing a complaint against the hospital and the special surgeon who operated on her.

“Doctors and nurses are well trained. In New Zealand they're extremely well trained. But they're only human beings and sometimes systems fail despite the high quality of the individual that's working within that system,” said Dr Peter Foley, chairman of the New Zealand Medical Association.

“If I hadn't been awake and someone wasn't there to get it out, then it could have been pretty fatal really,” Hayley says.

The Accident Compensation Corporation, responsible for compensating New Zealand citizens’ for "no-fault personal injuries," paid out more than $98 million for the year ending in June.

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