NHS 'never events' revealed: surgeons carried out heart surgery on wrong patient, wrong toe removed and wrong foot operated on

Details emerge of 148 medical mistakes that guidelines dictate should never have happened - in just six months

Health Reporter

Surgeons at an NHS hospital carried out heart surgery on the wrong patient, it was revealed today, following the release of new statistics on major errors within the health service.

Overall there were 148 "never events" - medical mistakes that according to guidelines should never happen - at NHS trusts between April and September this year.

Foreign objects such as needles, swabs and even a glove being left inside a patient were the most common type of error - occurring 69 times.

Surgery was performed on the wrong part of the body 37 times, and at one hospital, a cardiac operation was performed on the wrong patient.

One patient had the wrong toe removed, and another received surgery on their left foot for a condition affecting their right foot.

The figure does not represent a major increase on previous years. In the year 2012/13 there were 326 never events.

For the first time NHS England has named the trusts where different types of never event happened - but not linked specific events to specific trusts. NHS England said it could not publicise where specific mistakes happened because of the risk to patient confidentiality.

Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust had the highest number of never events in the six-month time period. Four such mistakes occurred: one wrong site surgery, one case of the wrong implant or prosthesis being made, and two instances of foreign objects being left inside patients.

Five foreign objects were discovered which had been left in patients between 2009 and March 2013, so were not included in the final total.

England's chief nursing officer Jane Cummings told The Independent: "Being open and honest about things that go wrong, in the end should help patients and the public have more confidence in NHS organisations. Only by talking about it can we learn and improve. Although it might be uncomfortable for organisations, we want trusts to be open with their patients and their staff, to find out why these events happened and work out what must be done to ensure they never happen again."

Dr Mike Durkin, NHS England’s national director for patient safety said that investigations into the events were on-going and it was not yet known how many had resulted in deaths.

“It is important to remember that all never events should trigger a root causes analysis investigation and subsequent improvement in safety, even where the patients come to minimal harm,” he said.

Some of the never events at NHS trusts in England, April – September 2013

Foreign object left inside patient: 69

Surgery on wrong part of body: 37

Wrong implant or prosthesis: 21

Inappropriate use of chemotherapy drug methotrexate: 7

Misplaced feeding tubes: 5

Inappropriate use of potassium based fluids: 2

Transfusion of wrong blood type: 2

Wrong gas used: 1

* Maggots in surgeries and out-of-date vaccines: Thousands of patients' lives put at risk by ‘years of basic GP failures’

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

    £20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

    Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

    £24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

    Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

    Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

    Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there