A Press Association investigation has found that serious and preventable medical mistakes have happened to 1,100 people since 2012.
Mistakes so serious that they are known as “never events” – because they should never happen – are entirely negligent.
The figures include more than 400 people who have had wrong site surgery. This is where the wrong part of the patient is operated on, for example where the wrong leg is amputated.
420 people have had foreign objects left inside them after having an operation, such objects including needles, scalpel blades, drill guides, swabs and gauzes.
Two “never events” include a woman who had her fallopian tubes removed instead of her appendix, and a man’s testicle being removed instead of just the cyst on it.
Other serious mistakes revealed by the investigation include:
- Diabetic patients not given insulin or were given the wrong type of blood during transfusion
- Feeding tubes which are meant to be fed into the patient’s stomach, put into their lung – a fatal mistake
- Operations carried out on the wrong hip, eye, leg or knee
- A woman had her kidney removed instead of an ovary
Provisional data from NHS England shows there were 254 never events from April 2015 to the end of December 2015.
From April 2014 to March 2015 there were 306, from April 2013 to March 2014, there were 338, and from April 2012 to March 2013 there were 290.
An NHS England spokeswoman said: “One never event is too many and we mustn’t underestimate the effect on the patients concerned. However there are 4.6 million hospital admissions that lead to surgical care each year and, despite stringent measures put in place, on rare occasions these incidents do occur.
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, told Sky News:
“It is a disgrace that such supposed ‘never’ incidents are still so prevalent. With all the systems and procedures that are in place within the NHS, how are such basic, avoidable mistakes still happening? There is clearly a lack of learning in the NHS. These 1,100 patients have been very badly let down by utter carelessness. It is especially unforgivable to operate on the wrong organ, and many such mistakes can never be rectified.”