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NHS errors: Tools left in patients and amputation errors make list of blunders | UK News



More than 600 patients have suffered due to serious NHS errors, including botched hysterectomies and surgeons operating on the wrong patient.

A total of 629 “never events” – meaning they are so serious they should never happen – occurred between April 2018 and July 2019 in NHS hospitals – the equivalent of nine patients every week.

The mistakes include doctors operating on the wrong body parts and leaving surgical tools such as gloves and drill bits inside patients.

Two men were mistakenly circumcised, while a woman had a lump removed from the wrong breast.

The wrong toe was amputated from one patient and two women had biopsies taken from their cervix, rather than their colon.

Six women had their ovaries removed during botched hysterectomies, putting them into early menopause.

Figures also show that some patients had procedures intended for someone else, including laser eye surgery, lumbar punctures and colonoscopies.

Potentially fatal mistakes included patients being given regular air rather than pure oxygen, and some being given overdoses of drugs such as insulin.

Some even had feeding tubes placed into airways instead of their digestive system.

Six patients received the wrong type of blood in a transfusion, while 52 people had the wrong teeth removed.

An NHS spokeswoman said: “The NHS cares for over half a billion patients a year and, while incidents like these are thankfully extremely rare, it is vital that when they do happen hospitals investigate, learn and act to minimise risks.

“The patient safety strategy published in July gives NHS staff even more support to do their job and includes a new education programme and a world leading incident reporting system to reduce the risks of human error.

Professor Derek Alderson, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said: “While these cases are very rare, never should mean never.

“Never events are exceptionally traumatic for patients and their families.

“They can also be devastating for the surgeons and healthcare staff involved.”

In total, there were 270 incidents linked to wrong site surgery (where an operation is performed on the wrong part of the body), with a 127 cases of “foreign objects” being left inside people following their surgery – including needles, specimen bags and swabs.

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Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “Wrong site surgery incidents are preventable safety instances that can have devastating consequences for the patient and their family.

“People who suffer harm because of mistakes can suffer serious physical and psychological effects for the rest of their lives, and that should never happen to anyone who seeks treatment from the NHS.

“Each incident of this nature puts patients at avoidable risk of harm.

“Although the NHS is under significant pressure, these incidents should not occur if the available preventative measures are implemented.”

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