Sheffield hospital sees mistakes rise

David Throssell
David Throssell
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Serious mistakes – including swabs left in patients and drugs wrongly prescribed – were reported at Sheffield’s adult hospitals.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals – which runs the Northern General, Royal Hallamshire, Weston Park, Jessop Wing and Charles Clifford Dental hospitals –recorded seven serious incidents from 2012-13.

rossparry.co.uk / Chris Fairweather'Picture shows the Northern General Hospital, where Jane Batty raced to donate her kidney to brother John Batty after competing and winning a 10k run in Chesterfield'rossparry.co.uk / Chris Fairweather

rossparry.co.uk / Chris Fairweather'Picture shows the Northern General Hospital, where Jane Batty raced to donate her kidney to brother John Batty after competing and winning a 10k run in Chesterfield'rossparry.co.uk / Chris Fairweather

The incidents, known in the health service as ‘never events’, have increased at the trust. There were three in 2011-12 and two the previous year.

Last year, three swabs were left inside patients following surgical procedures, while another three ‘never events’ concerned the drug Methotrexate being wrongly prescribed.

The medication is used to treat cancer as well as other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, but can have severe side effects.

A further ‘never event’ involved a nasogastric tube being inserted wrongly before use.

The tubes, used for feeding and administering drugs, are passed through the nose and into the stomach.

The incidents were revealed in a report to the trust’s board of directors.

Dr David Throssell, medical director at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We treat more than one million patients every year and our priority is always to provide safe, high quality care.

“We take never events seriously and always investigate the reasons why they may have happened.

“We then put in place actions to limit the chances of them recurring. In 2012/13 we regrettably had seven never events.

“Three of these related to the retention of small swabs after a procedure.

“Three related to the timing of a medication and the final incident involved a misplaced nasogastric tube.

“Six of the seven incidents did not cause any long- term harm to the patients, but nevertheless we are sorry these events happened.

“In all of the seven instances, a range of actions have been implemented, with many additional checks and procedures put in place to help limit the chance of these errors happening again.”

In 2011-12, all of the events related to swabs being left in patients.

Two were left behind while delivering babies and another in a patient given vascular surgery.

The Department of Health defines the incidents as ‘serious and largely preventable’, and that they ‘should not occur if preventative measures have been implemented’.

Hospitals follow a list of 25 possible ‘never events’, including operating on the wrong body part.