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Thursday, 9 May 2013

214 operations on the wrong part of the body....

I just want to follow on from Tuesday’s blog about under reporting of doctors who are guilty of repeated poor treatment. This has been followed by a report from the BBC on the frightening number of major mistakes over the last four years. These are the sort of incidents that the government say should never happen. In other words these are the most basic of mistakes.

The report includes the following –

322 incidents of foreign bodies left inside a patient after surgery,

214 cases of surgery on the wrong part of the body

73 cases of tubes going into a lung

58 cases of wrong implants being fitted

There have been over 750 such cases over the four years.

And these are just the most obvious cases. When you consider the number of cases of undiagnosed fractures, missed illnesses, lost records, administrative delays etc the picture is alarming.

Forgive me for labouring the point but this is nothing to do with a ‘compensation culture’. This is nothing to do with doctors being afraid to treat patients because they are afraid of being sued. This is nothing to do with practitioners refusing to try new procedures for fear of litigation. We need to disregard all of the rhetoric associated with the increasing number of claims for negligence.

The reality is that the NHS needs to do all it can to eliminate these errors. We will not solve the problem by making it as difficult as possible for victims to bring claims. We need to stop the incidents happening in the first place?

I suspect that most lawyers who do this work would love to see the day when they were no longer needed. 

That day is a long way off and will probably never arrive. 

But this report is all the more reason why we need to stop blaming victims and their lawyers and concentrate on remedying the real problems.


  1. This is a well balanced article. How would we feel if the patient was "our mum or dad" you would feel different and want the best possible care and rehabilitation post injury.

    The current media culture is to make you feel "guilty" for, expecting high quality care when needed.

    Most people can accept mistakes but not situations of clear neglect of duty, which as a result impacts the person in terms of their roles, their quality of life, their ability to work and their ability to do basic every day tasks; for which appropriate compensation is more than justified

    Matthew Hawes
    Independent Occupational Therapist / Case Manager.

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