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38 ‘Never Events’ Occurred in UK Hospitals in a Single Month

“Never Events” Patient Safety and Wellbeing at Risk

Following on from our article on NHS England’s report on “never events” across the UK, our national healthcare provider continues to make basic serious errors in the delivery of care across the country, putting patient safety and wellbeing at risk, according to official statistics released by NHS England. The report, covering the period between the 1st and 31st of October 2015 found multiple instances of “never events” occurring in NHS trusts across the UK, compromising care and putting patients at risk of medical negligence. Patients subjected to these clinical care failures may be entitled to claim clinical negligence compensation, making the continued high frequency of these failures particularly damning.

More than One “Never Event” Each Day in October

“Never events” are defined as instances whereby a patient’s safety or wellbeing is compromised as a result of healthcare providers failing to adhere to national guidance or safety regulations. They are basic but serious medical errors made by healthcare providers that should not occur. These instances are now logged and recorded by trusts across the UK in order to provide insight into general standards of care provision and help to curtail the incidence of clinical negligence. Unfortunately the occurrence of “never events” averaged more than one per day for the month of October, presenting the picture of a strained healthcare system unable to effectively serve its purpose and prone to failing patients.

38 “Never Events” in UK Hospitals in October

A total of 38 “Never Events” were recorded during October from trusts across the country. By far the most common type of medical failure – with 19 reported incidents – involved surgeons operating on the wrong area of the body entirely. Such cases of surgical error not only mean the patient’s original ailment is not resolved, but they are also exposed to further, unnecessary risk through further operations or procedures. There were also nine instances of patients retaining a foreign object in their body following surgery, four counts of incorrectly administered medication, two counts of incorrectly positioned naso / oro gastric tubes, two occasions where patients were given the wrong implant / prosthesis, one count of insulin overdose and even a fall from an improperly restricted / supervised window. The NHS trust with the most reported incidents for October was the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, where three “never events” took place during the month. However, failures were logged in trusts around the country, prompting clinical negligence solicitors to question whether the NHS is learning from past mistakes.

When reached for comment on the NHS England statistics, clinical negligence solicitor at Blackwater Law, Jason Brady, issued the following statement:

“The continued incidence of never events in our hospitals is deeply concerning. As their title suggests, these mistakes should simply never happen. Such occurrences create unnecessary risk for patients and in the worst cases may have life-changing implications. More must be done to address the failing procedures within hospitals that lead to these unforgiveable clinical errors.”

190 “Never Events” Recorded Between April and October 2015

Unfortunately, the occurrence of “never events” and clinical negligence in our hospitals is an on-going problem. In the period spanning the 1st of April to the 31st October 2015 some 190 such failures were recorded in trusts across the country. The worst offending trusts overall are identified as Barts Health NHS Trust (8), Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust (6) and Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust (5). Again some of the most alarming incidents – which suggest a high probability of clinical negligence – were also sadly the most common, with 79 incidents of surgery being performed on the wrong part of a patient’s body and 46 where a patient retained a foreign object following surgery.

Claiming Compensation or Clinical Negligence

If you or family members feel you have suffered substandard care or treatment in an NHS hospital, be it as a result of a “never event”, late diagnosis of cancer, an accident at work, mesothelioma or anything else, you may be entitled to medical negligence compensation.
Call Blackwater Law today on 0800 083 5500 and receive initial free, impartial advice from a clinical negligence solicitor who can quickly identify whether or not you may have a case, and instruct you as to your options.

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