Forceps and Needles Left Inside Patients by NHS Surgeons: UK ranked among the worst Western nations for failing to remove 'foreign bodies' after surgery

The UK has the sixth worst record among industrialised nations for surgeons leaving in 'foreign bodies' after procedures, with 5.5 cases per 100,000 people discharged from hospital.


Shocking statistic: British hospitals are among the worst in the Western world for leaving surgical instruments in patients after surgery, research has revealed.

A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development shows the rate is three times that of Poland, with 1.9 cases per 100,000 patients, and twice that of Slovenia, at 2.9 cases.

Experts say leaving items such as swabs, dressings and parts of hypodermic needles in patients' bodies increases the risk of deadly infections and other complications. It can also result in fatal blood poisoning and organ failure.

The NHS classifies such incidents as 'never events' because they should be avoided by systems of checks. Despite this, there were 102 cases in England in 2014/15.

Joyce Robins, co-director of pressure group Patient Concern, said more needed to be done to protect patients from such risks.

'It should be made a legal requirement that the checklist of instruments be read out loud and ticked off at the end of each surgical procedure,' she said. 'It should not be a matter of pot luck whether some instrument is left inside the patient.'

The OECD report said the chances of foreign bodies being left in people were reduced by checks to count instruments after surgery, and effective communications between surgical teams.

The data, which compares 16 OECD countries, shows that Belgium records the fewest cases, with 0.5 per 100,000 hospital discharges. Switzerland fares worst, with 11.6 cases.

In 2009, a mother of four was left with seven-inch forceps inside her for three months following an operation.

Donna Bowett, a former nurse, went to Alexandra Hospital in Worcestershire to undergo keyhole surgery to remove her gall bladder.

In the months that followed the surgery she suffered 'excruciating' pain, she said.

Doctors could not explain her pain and sent her for an MRI scan – but the magnetic field from the scan caused the metal inside her body to move. The scan was stopped when Miss Bowett started screaming with pain. Afterwards she said it felt like the instrument was trying to 'pull through her skin'. The error was eventually picked up on an X-ray.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: 'The NHS is recognised around the world as an unrivalled health service but its clinical performance is achieved against day-in day-out pressure on its staff.'

A spokesman for NHS England said: 'Any mistake of this kind is one too many. We are determined to make the NHS the safest healthcare system in the world and have one of the most open and transparent reporting systems in place.

'We are working hard to identify practical ways to ensure such errors are eradicated.'


Source: Daily Mail



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