Surgical errors at Sheffield’s hospitals

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Surgical errors, a medical swab left inside someone’s body and an attempted suicide are some of the worst incidents at Sheffield’s hospitals so far this year.

A new report has revealed there were 13 serious incidents at the city’s health trusts in June and July.

The document, by the NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group, lists mistakes and accidents reported in the first quarter of 2013.

At Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Northern General, Royal Hallamshire and Weston Park hospitals, as well as the Jessop maternity wing, a swab was left inside a patient during a clinical procedure.

The retained swab was classed as a ‘never event’, incidents defined by the Department of Health as having very serious consequences.

Meanwhile, medics twice failed to act on test results, and there have also been a series of bad slips, trips and falls at the trust’s sites.

Surgeons made a major error while operating on a patient in July, while in the same month there was a critical equipment failure.

At Sheffield Children’s Hospital, staff twice failed to obtain consent from parents before carrying out procedures, and a serious error happened during an operation in June.

And at the Sheffield Health and Social Care trust, an inpatient tried to kill themselves in June, and a month later two community patients died unexpectedly.

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

“We take serious incidents extremely seriously and always undertake a full investigation into their causes. We then put in place actions to limit the chances of recurrence.

“Six of the seven incidents reported during this period did not cause any long-term harm to the patients concerned, but nevertheless we are very sorry these events happened. In all 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.”

John Reid, director of nursing and clinical operations for Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We aim to provide high quality services for all our families and have a strong record of providing safe care.

“We have a very strong reporting culture, encourage staff to fully report any incidents and conduct a full investigation into the circumstances.

“Every trust aims to eliminate such incidents and this can only be done by being open and learning from them.”