Maimed by the NHS: Catalogue of errors revealed as patients are KILLED by drugs meant for others
Officials logged 760 'serious untoward incidents' last year in the NHSMore than 4,000 needed further treatment after doctors gave them accidental injury
310,000 paid out to people who found out that surgeons operated on the wrong part of their body
16:26 GMT, 30 March 2012
A terrifying catalogue of people have been left injured, maimed and poisoned by negligent medics, new NHS figures reveal.
The dossier of slip-ups includes patients killed by being given drugs intended for others, people left conscious as surgeons start to operate on them and dozens of victims who wake from surgery to find swabs and needles have been accidentally left inside them.
The list of NHS horrors also includes faulty equipment giving patients incorrect ‘all-clear’ results and name mix-ups leading to surgeons operating on the wrong people.
Confusion: Name mix-ups have led to surgeons operating on the wrong people
A collection of statistics, released in a Freedom of Information survey, shows for the first time how critical mistakes are being made on a daily basis inside the NHS.
Officials logged 760 so-called 'serious untoward incidents' last year in the NHS made up of 263 surgical blunders, 50 equipment failures and 447 drug incidents.
Other medical gaffs included NHS South East Coast logging three incidents where people had the incorrect lens fitted to their eyes during cataract surgery and a number of patients had items like a feeding tube and swabs accidentally left inside them.
They even had to deal with one case where the anti-bacterial hand wash used on the wards kept vanishing – only to find a patient was responsible for drinking it.
NHS South West admitted it had incidents where surgeons removed the wrong teeth from a patient and in two separate cases an operation was needlessly carried out after a misdiagnosis.
In NHS West Midlands medics got two patients mixed up resulted in one having a biopsy when it should have been taken from another patient with the same name.
A hospital within the same organisation had a failure of its emergency bleep system because of the theft of metal cabling.
A patient being treated for a
gynaecological procedure at NHS South Central ended up having to undergo
an operation to remove a piece of forceps from her, after they broke
off during the examination.
The NHS paid out more than 2million to patients who woke from surgery to find an item has been accidentally left inside them
In separate data hospitals recorded 4,121 people who needed additional care because they suffered an accidental cut, puncture, perforation or internal bleeding while being treated for something else, an increase of 42per cent in the last five years.
Another 199 hospital patients had items unintentionally left inside them following surgery or other medical treatments. These people needed almost another 800 nights in hospital to sort out the problem.
There were also 45 patients who suffered adverse effects because the equipment used on them had not been sterilised properly, while another 85 people were given emergency care as a result of not being given the correct medicines during surgery.
Hospitals also revealed around 3,500 people suffered complications because a medical device or piece of equipment failed to work properly.
The NHS admitted that it paid out more than 2million to patients last year who woke from surgery to find an item has been accidentally left inside them. Each victim was paid an average of around 12,500 for the anguish and pain caused by the NHS error.
Another 310,000 was paid out by the NHS to people who found out that surgeons operated on the wrong part of their body. The most common mistakes were made in relation to extracting the wrong teeth but medics have also blundered by operating on the incorrect ear, eye, kidney and knee.
A total of 52 patients sued the NHS for a total of 2.8million because they had been allowed to go home from hospital too soon, before they developed severe complications.
Joyce Robins, Co-director of Patient Concern, said: 'The level of mistakes in the NHS is both shocking and frightening. There are inherent risks in modern medicine and some accidents are inevitable.
'But we should not have to fear going home with extra unwanted bits left inside us, the wrong part of our body mutilated or complications caused by dirty equipment.
'Patient Concern sees no end to avoidable disasters as long as safety protocols, procedures and guidance remain advisory rather than mandatory.
'A comprehensive and successful system of checks before every operation was brought over from the USA. But it is a lucky dip whether your hospital and operating team have adopted this check list, because in the NHS each trust is free to do as it likes. Imagine the consequences of the aviation industry treating compliance with safety rules as optional!'
A spokesman for the Department of Health said: 'The vast majority of NHS patients experience good quality, safe and effective care and the UK is seen as one of the world leaders in the international drive to improve the safety of healthcare.
'Only a very small number of errors put patients at serious risk but we have made it clear that unsafe care is not to be tolerated.'