‘Never Event’ Figures Reveal 148 Unnecessary NHS Errors In Under Six Months

Details Include Patients Being Given Wrong Surgery And Foreign Objects Left Inside Patient


Latest figures show there were 148 ‘never events’ in under a six month period across the summer which included the wrong patient being operated on and another having the wrong toe removed.

The statistics were released by NHS England and reviewed 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 heart operation was performed on the wrong patient.

The latest figures do not represent a major increase on previous years as 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 events happened.

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

Expert Opinion
Never events should be just that – events that simply do not happen and we are concerned by these figures that show a high number have recently occurred in NHS Trusts.

“It is imperative that Trusts across the entire country invest in training to ensure every step is taken to protect the safety of patients and prevent injury where at all possible.

“Following the occurrence of a ‘Never Event’ each Trust should undertake a root cause analysis report to get to the bottom of exactly how and why something could go so seriously wrong.

“Many of our clients contact us as they are frustrated at the lack of information that they have been given about why there were errors in their care. Each Trust must provide clear, transparent information to patients who have fallen victim to a Never Event to help them come to terms with their ordeal and provide reassurance that steps have been taken to improve patient safety in future.”
Julie Lewis, Partner