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NHS Never Events a disgrace says Patients Association

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In the past four years more than 1000 NHS patients in England have suffered medical mistakes so serious they should never happen, according to the Patients Association.

“Never-events” include different surgical procedures from those which were planned. Examples include a man whose testicle was removed rather than a cyst and a woman whose fallopian tubes were taken out instead of her appendix.

Other “never event” mistakes included the wrong legs, eyes and knees being operated on and hundreds of cases of foreign objects (even a scalpel) being left inside bodies after operations.  The Patient Association’s analysis identified the following statistics:

  • 254 “never events”  from April 2015 to the end of December 2015
  • 306 “never events” from April 2014 to March 2015
  • 338 “never events” from April 2013 to March 2014
  • 290 “never events” from April 2012 to March 2013

Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, said “it is a disgrace that supposed “never events” are still so prevalent.  How are such basic, avoidable mistakes still happening there is clearly a lack of learning in the NHS. It is especially unforgivable to operate on the wrong organ, and many such mistakes can never be rectified”.

NHS England insists “never events” are rare, affecting one in every 20,000 procedures and that the majority of the 4.6 million hospital operations each year are safe.

A spokeswoman for them said one “never event “is too many and we must not underestimate the effect on the patients concerned.  To better understand the reasons why, in 2013 we commissioned a task force to investigate, leading to a new set of national standards being published last year specifically to support doctors, nurses and hospitals to prevent these mistakes.  Any organisation that reports a serious incident is also expected to conduct its own investigations so it can learn and take action to prevent similar incidents from being repeated”.

At Lester Morrill we are currently pursuing claims on behalf of two young people related to “never-events”.  One Claimant had surgery on the wrong toe and the other underwent a different surgical procedure to that that was planned.  Despite this, in neither case were the medical mistakes reported as an NHS “never event”.  Does this suggest that the incidence of these “never-events” is more prevalent than the statistics tell us.

If you think you or someone you know is a victim of a medical accident, you should consult a specialist clinical negligence solicitor who is experienced in this area.