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Ontario woman finds needle in her spine 16 years after giving birth

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When the pain in her shoulders and weakness in her right leg started two years ago, Giovanna Ippolito thought it was just part of getting older — that's until the 46-year-old's doctor ordered an X-ray that showed a five-centimetre long, broken needle embedded in her spine.

It was a medical error that took more than a decade to discover — after medical staff at the time failed to report it. 

Exactly when the needle was left in Ippolito's spine is unclear, but she says she's only had something injected into her back twice — during the birth of her son in 2002 and her daughter in 2004. 

Ippolito says she believes the needle broke off when medical staff at Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital in nearby Richmond Hill (called York Central Hospital at the time) administered a spinal block or an epidural during one of the births.

She's now locked in a battle with the hospital for answers and accountability. But experts say, with a system that's stacked against Canadians harmed by medical errors, it's likely no one will have to take responsibility.

More than 132,000 patients experienced some kind of medical harm — something both preventable and serious enough to require treatment or a longer hospital stay — in 2018-19, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, an independent, not-for-profit organization that collects information on the country's health systems.

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Source: CBC, 5 October 2020

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