Very serious hospital errors double in one year

By Gillian Crotty

According to figures released by the Department of Health the number of 'never event' hospital errors - mistakes so serious that they should never have happened, almost doubled in 2012/13.

The figures in respect of the NHS in England reveal that there were 299 'never events', made up of 25 types of incidents. The errors include leaving surgical instruments inside patients, operating on the wrong body part, lethal doses of painkillers, feeding tubes being inserted into lungs instead of the stomach, and other mistakes.

It is uncertain whether the number of serious errors has actually increased so dramatically, or whether the figures have gone up as a result of improved reporting. NHS England have said that a different organisation previously collected the data.

The NHS director of patient safety, Mike Durkin, said figures in respect of serious hospital errors will be published more frequently "to stimulate more learning and preventative action", and "not so that people can lay blame inappropriately". Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said the "worrying figures reveal an NHS cutting too many corners and sailing dangerously close to the wind."

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