The National Patient Safety Agency has issued a countrywide warning over swabs being left in women’s vaginas after they give birth.
Some midwives and other workers on maternity wards have been accidentally leaving the swabs, used to tackle after-birth bleeding, inside the mother.
The alert has been issued across England and Wales after 99 reports over the past two years of swabs not being removed, an error which can cause infection.
The watchdog noted this was only a small proportion of the 500,000 uses a year, and said its alert was partly a drive to further improve standards.
NHS trusts are urged to record swab use more routinely to eradicate the chance of error.
Maternity care leader at the NPSA Sara Johnson said: “This guidance is necessary as the effects of infection and the psychological harm associated with these incidents can be significant and last beyond the immediate postnatal period.”