Mamma mia! Why there are 20,000 pregnant MEN in Britain
Meanwhile more than 3,000 children and teenagers have apparently accessed geriatric services
15:27 GMT, 9 April 2012
The mother of all mistakes There are at least 20,000 pregnant men in the UK if NHS statistics are to be believed. The data was highlighted by concerned medical experts
At first glance, the NHS appears to be dealing with something of a modern medical miracle.
According to national statistics gathered on NHS care, nearly 20,000 male patients in England required midwifery services between 2009 and 2010.
What's more alarming is that over the same period 17,000 men apparently required obstetric services – a specialism for pregnant women and their babies, while a further 8,000 saw a gynaecologist.
But no there hasn't been a sudden influx of oestrogen in the drinking water – instead the bizarre results are due to a series of data entry errors.
Researchers from Imperial College London NHS Healthcare Trust reviewed all the available data from HESonline, which holds the national statistics for NHS care.
They found mix-ups were rife as the system relies on inputting fiddly medical codes. Therefore a single keystroke can change a patient's visit to a specialist eye clinic into a session with a midwife.
This explains why the statistics also revealed more than 3,000 children and teenagers had supposedly accessed geriatric services, while 1,600 adults over 30s had seen a child psychiatrist.
Meanwhile 20,000 adults were recorded as attending outpatient children services.
Writing in a letter published in the British Medical Journal on April 4, the authors joked that the data revealed 'some interesting service developments.'
However, they added that the data errors did raise serious care concerns.
Accurately capturing and coding patient episodes is crucial because this data informs the decision making into how NHS services are commissioned.
Therefore the team said clinicians should 'all examine the data being submitted by and about our
services for unintentional innovation'.