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NHS reports record numbers of hospital mistakes

The NHS has recorded an increasing number of “never events”.... these are so-called because they should, "never happen".

The equivalent of nearly eight weekly “never events” were recorded in the NHS in England between April 2021 and March 2022. The total number of events equated to 407 incidents. This is an increase from the same period the year before, which had 364 never events.

Among the incidents, nearly a quarter (98 cases) were of objects being left inside a patient following a procedure. Vaginal swabs were left inside patients on 32 occasions. General surgical swabs were left inside patients on 21 occasions. Other objects left within patients included part of a scalpel blade, part of a pair of wire cutters, and the bolt from surgical forceps. On three occasions over the year, part of a drill bit was left inside a patient.

Other never incidents included six patients who were given injections to the wrong eye. A woman had her ovaries removed by mistake when the plan was to conserve them. Overall, there were 171 cases of "wrong site" surgery (operations performed on the wrong body part of a patient). Hip implants were performed on the wrong side of the body in 12 times instances. Incorrect knee implants happened 11 times. 

Patients were connected to air instead of oxygen on 13 different occasions. Seven people were given blood transfusions where the wrong blood type was used. And one patient had a procedure to their breast that they had not consented too.

Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust was recently the subject of a highly critical report into the maternity services it offered between 2000 and 2019. This month, the trust admitted three offences of failing to provide safe care. The court heard one of the offences related to the death of Mohammed Ismael Zaman, 31 and known as Bolly. He suffered severe blood loss while undergoing dialysis in 2019.

Another charge was brought against the trust by the Care Quality Commission after the death of 83-year-old Max Dingle whose head became trapped between a bed rail and a mattress in 2020. The trust also pleaded guilty to exposing other patients to a significant risk of avoidable harm.

Passing sentence, senior district judge Paul Goldspring said the families of two patients who died at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital in 2019 and 2020 had suffered “unimaginable grief”. The judge imposed a fine of £800,000 on one of the charges relating to the death of Mr Zaman, and an additional £533,334 over a charge brought concerning the death of Mr Dingle.

The judge said that the offences were aggravated by a fine the trust received in 2016 and a “poor health and safety record in the management of” Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.


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