£25M cost to the NHS for retained Foreign Objects

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March 19, 2019 | By Ruth Tucker |

March 19, 2019 | By Ruth Tucker |

Since 2013 the NHS has paid out over £25M for claims where patients had foreign objects left inside them unintentionally. These incidents are called “Never Events” i.e. it was entirely preventable, with existing systems in place that were supposed to protect the patient.

Other “Never Events” include surgery at the wrong site (or indeed, sometimes on the wrong patient) or the incorrect implant/prosthesis being used. And, as the name suggests, these incidents should never happen.

Despite being entirely avoidable, Never Events continue to occur more than twice per week (around one in every 20,000 procedures). Whilst undergoing bunion surgery, the guide wire broke off in one patient’s foot and was not identified until a later outpatient clinic. A swab that was left inside a patient after a forceps delivery, or an entire guide wire that was flushed into the patient’s vein during a cardiology procedure.

So why is it still happening? An NHS Report cites a number of issues including staff training, staff shortages, miscommunication, and lack of Trust resources. In 2016 the NHS launched new safety standards for invasive procedures, however between April 2016 and March 2017 there were still at least 38 Never Events reported across England.

For those who are affected, the Clinical Negligence Team at Switalskis has extensive experience of such claims and has successfully represented patients who were victims Never Events. If a surgical error has affected you or a family member call us on 0800 130 0458 or complete our contact form and to arrange your free consultation.

Ruth Tucker

Ruth is a solicitor within our Medical Negligence team in Sheffield. She has worked in the legal profession since October 2010 and qualified as a solicitor in June 2015. She joined Switalskis Medical Negligence department in November 2016. Ruth's profile