Needle Left Inside Devon Surgery Patient

Investigations Are Underway To Figure Out How The Incident Happened

29.11.2013

A hospital in Devon is currently investigating how a surgical needle was left inside a patient without anyone noticing.

This incident comes just days after a similar occurrence where a nasogastric tube was "misplaced" inside the body of a person that was undergoing an operation at the Derriford Hospital, reports the BBC.

While both patients made a full recovery and were not harmed by the blunders, critics are calling for a full public inquiry as to why these two mistakes were allowed to happen so close to each other.

However, despite other similar incidents being classed as "never events" in the past - meaning they should not, under any circumstances take place with the levels of surveillance, guidance and funding available to NHS trusts - Dr Phil Hughes, medical director for Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust argues these two incidents are not serious enough to be classed in this manner.

"As reported in our public trust board papers, the last never event was reported on March 20th 2013. We have not had any further confirmed never events.

"In healthcare a high incident reporting rate is often associated with a strong patient safety culture. This is exactly what we have developed at Plymouth Hospitals [NHS Trust] and it is important that we maintain that."

Patients and families of both people involved in these incidents have been told about the mistakes and were given direct apologies by both trust management and the surgeons involved.

Earlier this year the full list of mistakes considered as never events by the government were published in full by the Department of Health.

Misplaced gastric tubes and retained foreign objects post-operation were both classified under this category and as such, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust may have to change tack and reconsider its classification of the incidents in question.

Other never events include entrapment in bedrails, maladministration of insulin, wrong site surgery, severe scalding of patients and falls from unrestricted windows.

Expert Opinion
It is essential that a full investigation is carried out as to how these incidents occurred. Thankfully in these instances both patients made a full recovery, but the incidents are extremely serious and urgent action is required by the Trust to ensure that it does not happen again.

“Sadly such issues are not uncommon, as we have acted in numerous cases involving people suffering serious health complications as result of failings and errors made during surgery.

“The welfare and safety of patients must always come first and any person undergoing surgery rightfully expects to receive a high standard of care. Findings of this nature simply cannot be ignored.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner