NHS Trusts Must be More Open after 600+ Never Events Revealed

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Medical Negligence Solicitors from leading national law firm Simpson Millar have called for NHS Trusts to be more open as new data reveals over 600 ‘Never Events’ occurring in NHS hospitals between April 2018 and July 2019.

The data obtained from news agency Press Association shows that some of the serious mistakes made included doctors operating on the wrong body parts, and leaving surgical tools, such as gloves, chest drains and drill bits, inside patients.

According to the data, one patient had the wrong toe amputated, while another had the wrong part of their colon removed. Two men were mistakenly circumcised, while a woman had a lump removed from the wrong breast and two others had a biopsy taken from their cervix rather than their colon.

A further six women had their ovaries removed in error during hysterectomies, plunging them into menopause.

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The figures revealed how several patients had procedures intended for someone else, including colonoscopies, lumbar punctures and laser eye surgery. Other potentially fatal mistakes included patients being given ordinary air rather than pure oxygen, and people falling from poorly secured windows.

Some patients were given overdoses of drugs including insulin, while others had feeding tubes misplaced and put into their airways. Medics also transfused the wrong type of blood to six patients, while 52 people had the wrong teeth taken out.

Overall, 270 incidents related to wrong site surgery, while 127 were ‘foreign objects’ left inside people after operations, including specimen bags, needles and swabs.

Jodie Cook, a Senior Associate Medical Negligence Lawyer from Simpson Millar said, “In situations where a serious yet avoidable mistake has been made by the NHS, communication with the patient is so important. Patients often want to understand what has happened to them and why it has happened.

“They want reassurances as to what is being done to prevent the same thing from happening to someone else. It is often when communication breaks down that the patient then consults Medical Negligence Solicitors to try and establish precisely what went wrong.

“When we look at the types of Never Events that have recently occurred, we can appreciate why they are so distressing for patients. It is incredibly difficult for patients to accept that their care has gone wrong at such a basic level, such as having surgery on the wrong body part or even having a procedure intended for another patient.”

The figures are equivalent to nine patients being affected by Never Events every week and has also highlighted that some NHS Trusts have higher error rates than others.

The worst offending including Barts Health NHS Trust in London, Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Jodie added, “It is easy to see how these mistakes and the handling of them afterwards leads to a lack of trust between the patient in question and the NHS. The NHS needs to be open with these patients when it makes mistakes in order to resolve them in both parties’ best interests.”

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