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Hundreds of patients suffer due to NHS blunders

More than 600 ‘never events’ occurred during the last year

Hundreds of patients each year suffer as a result of NHS errors that are so serious they should never happen, data shows.

Between April 2018 and July 2019, 621 “never events” occurred in NHS hospitals – the equivalent of nine patients every week.

The data, obtained by PA news agency, shows doctors have operated on the wrong body parts and left surgical tools inside patients.

One patient had the wrong toe amputated, while another had the wrong part of their colon removed. Two men were mistakenly circumcised, a woman had a lump removed from the wrong breast and two women had a biopsy taken from their cervix rather than their colon.

A further six women had ovaries removed in error during hysterectomies.

Other mistakes included patients being given ordinary air rather than pure oxygen, and people falling from poorly secured windows.

Medics also transfused the wrong type of blood to six patients, while 52 people had the wrong teeth taken out.

Overall, 270 incidents related to wrong site surgery, while 127 were “foreign objects” left inside people after operations, including specimen bags, needles and swabs.

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

“Never events are exceptionally traumatic for patients and their families,” he added. “They can also be devastating for the surgeons and healthcare staff involved.”

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, warned that 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,” she stated.

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.”