Expert Calls For Medical Equipment Concerns To Be Fully Investigated

Patient Safety Fears Raised By New Research

27.06.2011

A product liability expert at Irwin Mitchell has called on authorities to thoroughly assess the standard of surgical tools following concerns that the use of substandard equipment could be putting patient safety at risk.

According to a BBC Panorama investigation, just one of over 180 NHS Trusts and boards – Barts and the London NHS Trust – employs a dedicated technologist who carries out thorough tests on all of the tools it uses during operations.

It has also been revealed that Barts rejects around 1 in 20 tools over safety fears, with concerns raised that faults could increase a patient’s risk of infection or serious injury.

While the Medicines and Health Care Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) calls on all surgical tool manufacturers to register with it, responsibility for quality control remains with the supplier and manufacturer and neither the NHS nor the MHRA require suppliers to inspect manufacturers.

Irwin Mitchell represents a number of people who have suffered serious injury and illness as a result of substandard or faulty medical equipment being used during surgery.

Gary Walker, a solicitor at the firm with expertise in such cases of product liability, said: “Patient safety should always be recognised as the fundamental priority for the NHS, but sadly we see many cases where this has not happened.

“We’ve seen first-hand that the impact faulty equipment can have on people, leaving them needing further medical treatment and hospital care in order to fully recover.

“In some of the worst cases, patients also develop long-term illnesses which they need years of regular appointments and treatment to deal with.

“Because of this, it is shocking to think that just a single NHS Trust is utilising quality control measures to ensure all of the tools used during surgery and operations are in the best possible condition.  We are also concerned over the lack of regulatory control over what is permitted for use in operating theatres. 

“While it is vital that medical professionals have the necessary skills to perform operations and provide treatment, it is equally as important that they have the right tools to do the job. We hope that this investigation leads to a clear improvement in safety standards and ensure hospitals are fully equipped to work in the safest manner.”

If you or a loved one has suffered due to a defective medical device or medicine, our medical negligence solicitors could help you claim compensation. View our Defective Medical Products Drugs Or Medicines Claims page for more information.