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  • Writer's pictureRosa Marchitelli

She's living with a needle left in her spine, yet no one will tell her which doctor did it

Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons criticized for botching investigations into patient's complaints

Rosa Marchitelli, Jenn Blair · CBC News · Posted: Jun 10, 2024 4:00 AM EDT | Last Updated: June 10

Giovanna Ippolito holds examples of the types of needles that were inserted into her spine during childbirth — an epidural and a spinal. She doesn't know which one broke off in her spine and was left there by medical staff. (Jonathan Castell/CBC)

Giovanna Ippolito is living with a broken needle in her spine after it broke off during childbirth. An anesthesiologist then left the four centimetre-long fragment embedded in her back — and didn't tell her what happened.

Instead, it was discovered during an X-ray more than a decade later. The Bolton, Ont., woman says her doctor can't directly link the pain she's experiencing to the needle, but one thing has been made clear to her: it's not safe to remove it.

The location and the scar tissue that has grown around the needle make it too dangerous.

Exactly when the needle was left there is unclear because medical staff failed to note it in her records — but Ippolito says she's only had needles inserted into her back on two occasions — during the birth of her son in 2002 and her daughter in 2004.

She says for years she's been living with pain in her shoulders and right leg.

Both births took place at Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital (called York Central Hospital at the time), north of Toronto.


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