Hospitals reveal 750 blunders that should never have happened

More than 750 patients have suffered after preventable mistakes in England’s hospitals over the past four years.Hospitals reveal 750 blunders that should never have happenedThe incidents, such as operating on the wrong body part or leaving instruments inside patients, are categorised by the Department of Health as “never events”.

This means they are incidents that are so serious they should never happen.

NHS England admitted the figures were too high and said it had introduced new measures to ensure patient safety.

The department has categorised 25 incidents that should never happen if national safety recommendations are followed by medical staff. The BBC discovered through Freedom of Information requests to NHS trusts that the majority of mistakes fell into four categories.

There were 322 cases of foreign objects left inside patients during operations; 214 cases of surgery on the wrong body part; 73 cases of tubes, which are used for feeding patients or for medication, being inserted into patients’ lungs; and 58 cases of wrong implants or prostheses being fitted.

He argued that hospitals have no incentive to report “never events” because they may have to reimburse the cost of the procedure to the NHS as well as paying for the patients’ long-term care.

Horrific as these incidents are, it is important to put them in context. On average each year there are 4.6 million hospital admissions to the NHS in England that require surgery. The NHS says the risk of a “never event” happening to you is one in 20,000.

Dr Mike Durkin, director of patient safety for NHS England, said the 700 “never events” were “too many”. He said: “One is too many in any week, in any day, in any hospital.”

He added that NHS England had started collating the data to help educate staff on better practice.

The World Health Organisation’s patient safety checklist has also been adapted for use in England and Wales.

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