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Hospital blunders that should never happen
NHS England’s publication on the ‘never events’ reported that between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2014 there were 89 instances of surgery to the wrong part of the body, this is more than the one a week, as quoted by Mr Hunt.
Of the 89 instances of surgery to the wrong site, 18 involved the removal of an incorrect tooth.
I currently have a client who is pursuing a claim against her dentist for removing the wrong tooth. As a result of the dentist’s error my client will have to have extensive, painful and costly implant treatment. This could have been avoided if her dentist had just read her medical notes properly.
Mr Hunt said that “[the figures are] not acceptable.”
Mr Hunt believes that the key to reducing the number of mistakes is honest and open reporting, so that the cause of the mistakes can be analysed and procedures can be put in place to avoid the same mistakes occurring over and over again.
Emma Scourfield, Head of Medical Negligence said “We hear of many cases where people undergo surgery only to find it’s the wrong limb or part of the body that has been worked upon. Some cases include surgical instruments that have been left inside the body.
‘Cases such as these leave patients in a worse scenario than they were before the surgery. Patients are usually frightened of undergoing procedures. Having to come around to find that they may have to undergo surgery again, or at worst nothing can be done because the wrong falopian tube may have been taken out, is very traumatic.
In February 2014, a separate report on the NHS England publication, said that having analysed the ‘never events’ between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2014 the key to reducing the number was to ‘standardise, educate and harmonise.’ The report identified that ‘never events most commonly occurred as a result of unsafe systems (for example poorly managed operating lists) and/or unsafe behaviours (such as disruption during swab counts).
The report recommended standardising practice, so that all hospitals had access to core, generic processes for conducting different procedures, such as surgery, wherever their geographical location. It then prescribed educating staff to ensure the processes were implemented. Finally, it suggested harmonising the access to data so that ‘never events’ are reported via a central reporting system, which can be analysed quickly and the results readily incorporated into national standards.
The report also highlighted that one in five hospitals is not being honest about the scale of medical blunders and not reporting them correctly. In a recent government survey it revealed that 29 NHS Trusts are under-recording the number of serious errors and near misses that occur due to mistakes by staff. It seems that the NHS has a long way to go to meet the Health Secretary’s target.
Emma Scourfield, Head of Medical Negligence at NewLaw is an experienced solicitor that helps clients who have suffered harm, as a result of an avoidable medical error.
Kiki Farr - NewLaw Solicitors
0845 521 0945