Victim offered $50 voucher as compensation after mix-up causes severe vagina injury

A medical worker poses in a pharmacy in this file photo. Source: Supplied

A 21-year old woman has received burns to 80% of her vagina and suffered a several-month long recovery after an error was made during what should have been a simple medical procedure.

According to reports by local New Zealand media, the woman (who has not been named to protect her privacy) was then offered only a $50 fuel voucher from the pharmacy behind the error, along with a letter of apology.

The episode began when the victim visited a specialist centre in Wellington for a colposcopy after an abnormal smear test. The acid used as part of the test should have been diluted to 5%, but was later found to be 100% concentration. As a result, the woman suffered severe internal burns.

An investigation revealed the mixup was caused by the pharmacy the provided the acid, which had apparently labelled the solution with the incorrect concentration.

Three days after the incident the victim received a letter sent by the pharmacy, which apologised for the mistake, which stated that it was “reviewing [its] dispensing procedures and checking systems relating to the supply of items to the clinic to prevent future errors”.

The letter also added: “Please accept the enclosed voucher to cover your travel costs relating to your readmission to the clinic,” and a $50 fuel voucher was indeed included.

Unsurprisingly, the victim was not impressed with this meagre amount of compensation. According to her account, she had endured “horrific pain” during the procedure, which only got worse when she returned home. However, she was under the impression that the pain was normal.

It wasn’t until 24 hours after the procedure that she realized things were not right, and she contacted the doctor who had administered the smear test. The doctor was alarmed because another woman at the clinic who had also received a smear test was reporting severe pain as well.

The acid was immediately sent to a laboratory for testing, where it was revealed to be 100% concentration, as opposed to 5%. For the next three months, the victim had to visit hospital multiple times for treatment, spending around $2,000 on doctor’s bills.

In addition to the financial impact, the victim told journalists that the incident has caused her great stress and suffering. She said: “I wasn’t allowed to walk anywhere. I couldn’t sit down because it hurt so badly.”

Medical documents reveal the extent of her injuries, which include burns to over 80% of her reproductive organs. There was a risk, according to medical officials, that she might not be able to have children as a result of the botched labelling of the acid.

According to local media, the victim has sought compensation from the pharmacy involved to pay for the medical bills, while there has also been a complaint lodged with the New Zealand Health and Disabilities Commissioner.