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More transparency to drive up NHS safety

Posted in: Medical Negligence 

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has published new data showing the number of NHS “never events” reported over the last two years and highlighted fresh action to improve care and reduce medical negligence.

Never events are serious patient safety incidents that, by definition, should never happen. Never events include events such as surgery on the wrong part of the body, or surgical instruments being left in the body after an operation.

The data shows that over 300 never events were reported to Strategic Health Authorities over the past year. It is not possible to compare this figure with previous data as it is the first time that 17 of the categories have been reported on.

The vast majority of never events are surgical. The NHS Commissioning Board is setting up a taskforce to look at surgical never events, in order to make sure that these events are eradicated from NHS surgery.

The 2011/12 data shows that 326 never events were reported to Strategic Health Authorities, with the most common types of incident being:

  • Retained foreign objects post-operation (161 incidents reported).
  • Surgery on the wrong part of the body (70 incidents).
  • Wrong implant or prosthesis (41 incidents).
  • Misplaced nasogastric tubes (23 incidents).

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