Information request reveals serious errors of NHS staff

BUNGLING NHS staff removed incorrect teeth and carried out a biopsy on the wrong part of a patient’s body as part of a catalogue of errors in 2010 and 2011.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) Act request by the Herald revealed a string of easily avoidable mistakes, known in the health service as Never Events.

However, a spokesman for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the DGH and the Conquest in Hastings, said that no long-term harm was caused as a result of the gaffes.

The NHS classes Never Events as very serious, preventable incidents, which should not happen if appropriate preventative measures are in place and followed.

And the Herald FOI found there were seven such incidents between October 2010 and November 2011.

They included wrong hip surgery, a piece of medical equipment known as a protoscope left inside a patient’s body and a failure to remove a throat pack following dental surgery. There was also a biopsy on the wrong part of someone’s body and a guidewire left in a patient after staff fitted a central venus pressure line.

The findings are predominantly across the two hospital sites, but do take in some of the community services the trust offers. One incident confirmed as happening here in Eastbourne was at the DGH, where staff left part of a surgical device inside a patient.

A spokesman for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust responded to the figures by saying, “The trust takes patient safety extremely seriously. While we cannot comment on individual cases, we can stress that no lasting harm came to any patients involved in these Never Events.

“There have been fundamental changes to procedures since these incidents, including the adoption of World Health Organisation check lists in all areas where invasive procedures occur both inside and outside the trust’s main operating theatres.

“We report Never Events to ensure lessons are learnt and local people should be reassured that a culture exists within the trust to learn from incidents and minimise the risk of any recurrence.”