Overworked NHS staff may be endangering one in ten hospital patients, according to figures reported by the Daily Mirror newspaper.
It says that half of 4,000 mistakes made last year by surgeons and doctors resulted in death, injury or patients suffering extreme pain.
The report is based on freedom of information requests regarding serious untoward incidents (SUIs) by all 172 NHS trusts, most of which refused to give details and merely noted “unexplained deaths”.
However, the report estimated that a tenth of all patients admitted to hospital are likely to be endangered as a result of a medical mistake.
It has been to some extent bolstered by Dr Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, who said that staff shortages have led to more errors.
They include the wrong person or part of the body being operated on, wrong diagnoses and dangerous doses of drugs being prescribed.
In one case, a wrongly inserted chest drain punctured a patient’s heart, and in another a patient died after a tube was dislodged from his windpipe.
The report referred to a 2001 finding of between five and 80 errors per 100,000 consultations, ‘mainly related to the processes involved in diagnosis and treatment’.