Myanmar govt investigating surgical tool left in patient’s body for 26 years

A surgeon prepares for an operation. Photo: Flickr / US Army Africa

Myanmar’s health department has launched an investigation after a man from Ayeyawady Region complained of having a six-inch surgical instrument left in his abdomen following a surgery 26 years ago, causing him decades of severe pain.

“We told the specialist who performed the operation in the past, but he ignored it. He did not take up responsibility. Therefore, we complained. We presented health records and [descriptions of my father’s suffering] to [health department] officials,” Shine Htet Aung, that patient’s son, told Eleven.

The department, as well as the president’s office and parliament members, did not reply for weeks, only announcing this week that it would look into the case.

The instrument was removed from the patient’s body when he underwent another surgery at the Hinthada People’s Hospital last month. Investigators have begun questioning the surgeon who performed the recent surgery to learn more about the case.

Dr. Oo Oo Han, who performed the original surgery in 1992 and allegedly left the instrument in the patient’s body, has been less cooperative.

“Openly speaking, I saved his life at that time. Without a surgical operation, he would have died. No one would do that recklessly,” he in an interview with Eleven last week. He also blamed the nurses who worked with him at the time for not keeping track of the surgical equipment and a lack of electric power also contributed to the mistake.

At the same time, he also refused to admit that he was the surgeon who left the tool in the patient’s body.

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