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10 March 2016

Basic errors still occurring in NHS hospitals

A recent analysis by the press association has highlighted 1,188 cases of basic medical negligence, something the NHS has acknowledged should never happen.

Over the last four years patients have suffered horrific mistakes including the wrong body parts being operated on or removed, objects being left inside after surgery, and incorrect doses of or wrong drugs administered. Lives were also put in danger when the wrong blood type was given during a transfusion and feeding tubes were inserted into patients lungs instead of their stomachs.

While these ‘Never Event’ cases are rare and the NHS accepts that one event is too many, the analysis leads to questions as to why patients are still being let down. In 2013, a taskforce was commissioned to investigate, and in 2015 a new set of standards was published specifically to prevent mistakes such as these from happening.

Despite this there were still 254 never events from April 2015 to the end of December 2015.

Some of the cases reported were of such a serious nature they can never be rectified, In one particular case listed a woman’s fallopian tubes were removed instead of her appendix and a testicle removed instead of the cyst on the testicle. The Patients Association has called such errors a ‘disgrace’.

John Lowther, solicitor, of Longden Walker and Renney, commented, “It’s easy to say that basic errors such as wrong site surgery should not occur but, as has been reported in this study, over 250 were identified in under a year between April and December 2015 and when they occur they can badly affect the lives of those concerned.

I pursued a Claim on behalf of a lady who underwent an ovarian drilling procedure in an effort to help her conceive, when she was, in fact, already pregnant – the clinicians had forgotten to undertake a scheduled pre-operative pregnancy test. In another case, a hospital failed to undertake scans on a man who attended hospital complaining of back pain, following a workplace accident in which a 500lb trailer had fallen on him knocking him over. As a result his spinal fractures went undiagnosed for 9 months.

It is important that, when a patient suffers as a result of a mistake, he or she is looked after properly both medically and financially.

If anyone suffers harm as a result of a clinical error, it is important that they seek legal advice without delay. Basic errors can have terrible consequences - particularly if a person requires significant care or is prevented from working, compensation can be very important. It can cover medical bills, travel costs, and pay for aids and adaptations that may be required.

£2,000 compensation was recovered for one of our clients after receiving inappropriate treatment after a laceration to the back of the head leaving them with an infected wound which required further treatment.

To any patient who has suffered harm as a result of a medical negligence, we strongly advise you to seek help and make sure that such errors and mistakes are noted and dealt with by the organisations involved. If you want to speak with us call 0191 566 6500 or email me at