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Investigations To Be Held Following Two ‘Never Events’ At Great Western Hospital Units

Expert Lawyers Say Immediate Improvements Needed To Protect Patient Safety


By Helen MacGregor

Medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell say they are ‘deeply concerned’ after a patient at Swindon’s Great Western Hospital (GWH) fell victim to a ‘never event’ when a medical swab was left inside her – the second time it has happened at a hospital unit this year.

The swab was left inside the unnamed woman for two days following the delivery of her baby and was only removed during a follow up appointment at the maternity unit.

Lawyers are now calling for urgent investigation to understand how the mistake happened again after it was revealed earlier this year that a medical swab had been left inside a maternity patient for 10 days at the GWH-run Royal United Hospital maternity unit in Bath.

Both incidents are called "never events" - something the government says should never happen if patient safety rules are followed.

The GWH had six never events in 2011-2012, including one swab that was left inside a breast cancer patient after surgery in August 2012.

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to medical negligence claims

Expert Opinion
Never events should be just that, events which just do not happen, and for two very similar instances to occur within the same GWH run maternity units within a year is simply not acceptable.

“There now needs to be an urgent investigation into how this could happen in the first place with a series of improvements implemented to ensure this can never happen again.

“Sadly the medical law team at Irwin Mitchell have seen a number of repeat incidents of retained instruments, surgery on the wrong body part and cases of wrong implants or prosthesis being fitted. This is despite these having been classed as ‘never events’ by the NHS some years ago.

“Staff must be better trained to use the correct equipment and follow strict measures to make sure there is no chance these mistakes can ever be made and if they are, the Trust responsible needs to be held to account so lessons can be learnt to protect patient safety in future.
Julie Lewis, Partner