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One Never Event is One Too Many

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SURGERY on the wrong part of the body, swabs left inside a patient, fallopian tubes removed instead of an appendix, are just some of the horror stories termed ‘never events’ that can occur in hospitals.

‘Never events’ are medical mistakes so serious they should never have happened and more than 1,000 NHS patients in England in the past four years have suffered according to patient groups.

Other ‘never events’ included the wrong legs, eyes or knees being operated on and hundreds of cases of foreign objects such as scalpels being left inside bodies after operations.  Recent statistics published by the Welsh Department for Health this week indicate an increase in ‘never events’.

The statistics in England are just as worrying with NHS England’s own figures highlighting that between April 2015 and December 2015 alone there were 254 never events.  However, NHS England insist never events were rare - affecting one in every 20,000 procedures - and that the majority of the 4.6 million hospital operations each year are safe.

These are incidents that occur which are largely preventable and can include, but are not limited to, the following:-

  • Retained/foreign objects following surgery
  • Wrong site surgery
  • Wrong implant/prosthesis
  • Misidentification of patient leading to incorrect medication/surgical procedures
  • Insulin overdose
  • Transfusion of the incorrect blood type
  • Misplacement of naso-gastric tubes
  • Scalding of patients

 “Medicine is a complex science that continues to evolve and we are thankful for the treatments and cures for the many health conditions that took the lives of our grandparents, but one ‘never event’ is one too many,” said medical negligence solicitor Jacqueline White.

“I will happily accept a new hip or knee if it means that I can continue to live a full and active life and realise, like with all surgical procedures, there are risks of infection.  However, if that infection is caused by my surgeon having left a swab or a scalpel inside me then that risk becomes one I did not consent to.  

“Never events’ are just that, they are events that should never occur and a consequence of unacceptable and substandard practice which more often than not lead to serious health complications,”   she added.

If you have any questions or concerns about mismanaged medical care contact Pearson Solicitors specialist medical negligence team now or call 0161 785 3500


Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

Written by Jacqueline White


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