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One in 10 NHS patients at risk from doctors' errors


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’.


Readers' comments (2)

  • I recently had a Laparoscopy and I think there was an error in my treatment for discharge. I was only given paracetamol and and diclofenac, I was ofcourse in agony on my first day home as these medications did not touch my acute pain. I had to ring the on-call doctor to be prescribed with tramadol and co-dydramol. This was a hospital error and they should have assessed me better before I was discharged.

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  • I would'nt exactly say it was a Doctor error just because you weren't given pain killers stong enough for you. Now if you had been given too stong analgesia that made you feel sick or dizzy, what would you have said then?

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