Friday, 10 May 2013

'Never' events.

BBC News has done us all a great service with some classic and useful research into ‘never happen’ events, using the powers under the Freedom of Information Acts to obtain this information.

I’ve taken their raw data and put it into list form for my new NHS site so you can have a look at your local hospitals. Tomorrow I’ll post my analysis of some of the worst offenders.

These aren’t just everyday mistakes – those happen and can be very serious. These are mistakes that should ‘never’ happen;

Ø Putting feeding tubes down into the lungs.                    

Ø Giving the wrong or no insulin.

Ø Operating on the wrong thing.

Ø Operating on the wrong person (no, really).

Ø Letting patients fall out of windows.

Ø Leaving foreign objects in peoples bodies after          operations.

And so on – you get the idea. It usually means death and it should ‘never happen’.

Mind you, one class of incidents is where prisoners in custody escape from the hospital. It’s not their responsibility, it’s not about treatment and really – as far as the patient is concerned - it is quite a good ‘outcome’.

Ashford and St. Peter’s had five ‘never happen’ incidents over the last four years, which is about mid to upper range – not so good.

They were 3 incidents of leaving foreign objects inside people after operations, 1 wrong site surgery and 1 maladministration of insulin.

Epsom and St Helier also had five incidents; 4 foreign objects left inside people post op and one wrongly inserted feeding tube.


Frimley Park had only two; 1 wrong site operation and 1 ‘surgical error’.


Heatherwood and Wexham had only three incidents; 2 ‘surgical error’ and 1 wrong site surgery.


Interestingly, Epsom in financial difficulties had the same number of incidents as Ashford and St. Peters which has a surplus.

Heatherwood and Wexham is in a bad financial state and has a better result than either of them. Frimley Park is the best of the bunch.

It’s a crude measure, but if you were treated in that way you’d feel different about it.


Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

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