Leap in Medical Mistakes by Surgeons

Medical mistakes on the rise


Operations in which patients have the wrong body parts removed have risen 50% in the last three years, it was reported today.

Last year, at least 40 patients in the UK discovered they had been the victim of mistakes by surgeons.

Over the last three years, there have been eight operations where the wrong disc was removed, five where the wrong leg was amputated, four where the wrong hip was taken out, at least one case of the wrong testicle being removed and at least one case where a woman was given a hysterectomy in error, it was reported.

The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, also reflected 27 claims for "wrong site surgery" in 2003/04, rising to 35 the following financial year and 40 in the last financial year.

Compensation payouts for the victims totalled just over ?1 million for the financial year 2005/06, with the average cost per wrong operation being ?27,000, it was reported.

The Department of Health said the incidents relating to patient claims may have taken place years earlier.

Therefore the number of claims settled in one year did not necessarily reflect the number of incorrect operations carried out that year, it said.

It added that claims relating to legs may not all have been to do with amputations.

Still only a "tiny number" of medical mistakes made

A spokeswoman added: "Millions of surgical procedures are carried out safely and correctly every day in the NHS and only a tiny number of cases are ever performed incorrectly.

"But the Government is very clear - NHS patients who are injured as a result of clinical negligence should receive correct and full compensation.

"The Government is committed to improving patient safety and in 2001 set up the National Patient Safety Agency to monitor and analyse the pattern of patient safety incidents occurring across the country.

"As well as collecting this information, the Agency works with the NHS to help reduce the occurrence of preventable incidents."