Rise in safety alerts at Sheffield Children’s Hospital

Sheffield Children's Hospital.
Sheffield Children's Hospital.
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Safety risks and accidents at Sheffield Children’s Hospital have increased - with sudden deaths, dirty needles and thefts among more than 1,500 incidents of concern in four months.

A total of 1,543 incidents were reported between August and November, a rise of more than 220 on the same period in 2012, and bringing the total for the year so far to 3,097.

There were over 1,200 patient safety alerts, 120 health and safety risks, 77 security warnings and 44 data confidentiality breaches.

Medical director Derek Burke said the incidents had been documented as part of a ‘healthy reporting culture’, and that the hospital took safety seriously.

In a report to the trust’s board of directors, risk manager Alan Wolfe said the most commonly-reported incidents related to medication and ‘abusive, violent or disruptive behaviour’.

Most of the violent incidents involved staff being attacked at mental health facility the Becton Unit.

Meanwhile seven workers were injured while restraining patients, with one member of staff being injured on the critical care unit.

Thirteen employees cut or bruised themselves by colliding with doors and furniture, and one worker lacerated their hand when a shelf collapsed.

There were also 17 slips, trips or falls, including seven on wet floors and two in lifts.

Nine incidents were reported regarding sharp objects, eight with dirty needles.

Four safety alerts were graded as ‘serious incidents’.

Mr Wolfe said: “Two related to unexpected deaths following presentation at the emergency department, one related to a patient absconding from the Becton Unit, and the fourth was a patient whose newborn blood spot was not followed up within one year.”

He said there had also been a spate of petty thefts .

Cars were targeted by crooks, and the dad of a young patient had his mobile phone stolen.

Mr Wolfe said a vending machine was broken into, costing £533 in stolen money, damage and lost income.

Out-of-date drugs were discovered in the pharmacy department, while around the hospital documents containing patients’ details were found lying on photocopiers.

More than 25 formal complaints were filed during the four months, as well as 10 new potential legal claims for clinical negligence.

Mr Burke said: “We actively encourage parents to let us know about their experiences and if they have any concerns, so that we can make any changes that are needed.

“The overwhelming majority of incidents were once again low or no harm. All incidents are reviewed by senior management which allows the organisation to learn and helps us to continue to provide a safe environment. More serious incidents are investigated and appropriate actions taken.”

Work is getting under way this month on the hospital’s £40 million redevelopment.