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Action call over NHS 'never events'


Seventy people had surgery on the wrong part of their body while 161 foreign objects were left inside patients after an operation, government data shows.

The government has published new figures showing the number of NHS “never events” reported over the last two years with the vast majority of them being surgical.

The 2011/12 data shows that there were 326 never events, which are described as serious patient safety incidents that by definition should never happen.

The most common mishaps reported to strategic health authorities included 161 patients retaining foreign objects post-operation, 70 people having surgery on the wrong part of the body, 41 incidents involving the wrong implant or prosthesis and 23 incidents of misplaced nasogastric tubes.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said transparency saves lives and improves care.

“The NHS treats a million people every 36 hours, and we know that the vast majority of these patients have excellent care. But the NHS needs to do more to really tackle these events,” Mr Hunt said.

“The NHS Commissioning Board is now setting up a taskforce to eradicate these never events from NHS surgery.”

NHS Medical Director Sir Bruce Keogh said these incidents were preventable.

“NHS leaders should examine these figures and the guidance that sits alongside them and really focus on driving them out of the NHS,” Sir Bruce said.

“There are simple ways to prevent them occurring, like the surgical safety checklist, and everyone working in the NHS should ensure that the checklist is being followed.”

The government says is not possible to compare these figures with previous data because the number of incidents defined as never events has increased from eight to 25.



Readers' comments (3)

  • how can you have surgery on the wrong part of your body? that is pretty appalling, what's the point in all the checklists we go through if the surgeon still gets it wrong.

    leaving bits in afterwards, god help us.

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  • 83% of never events caused by surgeons alone. Are we now going to get a daily diatribe from the Gov. and red-tops on why the people going into surgical posts these days cannot tell their left from their right or are unable to read simple notes or follow a great big arrow pointed to the right area?
    Probably turn out to be the fault of the theatre/ recovery/ ward/district nurses

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  • r.p12 - of course it will be the nurses fault, everything always is and always will be.

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