27 May 2024

Woman suffers avoidable, 'horrific pain' during treatment at Auckland's Greenlane Hospital

2:01 pm on 27 May 2024
generic hospital ward

It felt like the electrically surging wire was cutting through her cervix, the woman said. Photo: befunky.com

A woman screamed in pain when a live electrical loop was placed on her cervix without anaesthetic during a medical procedure, a critical report has found.

The Health and Disablity Commission has released its findings on a complaint into the 2019 incident which happened at Auckland's Greenlane Hospital.

The woman, in her 20s at the time, screamed out as the wire loop touched her cervix during the treatment to have abnormal cells removed.

Local anaesthetic should have been administered but had not.

"Now you're going to hear a buzz from the machine but you won't feel a thing," she was told, but she was then "filled with the most incredibly horrific pain", she told the commission.

It felt like the electrically surging wire was cutting through her cervix, she said.

One of the doctors told her to stop her legs shaking because she was interfering with the procedure.

They stopped and asked if she would like to reschedule the procedure or have it under general anaesthetic.

The women decided to go ahead because she was afraid if she did not the abnormal cells would develop into cancer, she told the commission.

Anaesthetic was then applied and the treatment continued.

Two doctors were involved: one a senior gynaecological oncologist, the other a junior doctor.

The commission found the junior doctor should have applied the local anaesthetic before the procedure started, but the senior doctor was ultimately responsible for making sure she had.

Neither had provided the patient with an appropriate standard of care and skill, the report found.

The senior doctor said she was shaken by the pain they had caused. She tried to contact the woman later and sent an apology letter.

The patient was eventually given a formal apology by Te Whatu Ora Health NZ.

The woman had also complained she received burns to her vagina and upper thigh from iodine used in another part of the treatment.

Commissioner Morag McDowell recommended Te Whatu Ora update its policy to make sure patients who had suffered an adverse event or who have been particularly distressed during an appointment get a phone call to follow up.

And the agency should consider using saline wash after any gynaecological procedures that use iodine.

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