A recent Freedom of Information Request made to all 172 NHS Trusts by the Daily Mail revealed that a patient died at Aintree University Hospital as a result of a breathing tube becoming dislodged, triggering a fatal heart attack. In the same hospital a chest drain which was inserted to relieve pressure on a patients lungs was wrongly inserted and punctured their heart and in a further case a patient underwent the wrong urological procedure.
The request was made to obtain details of serious untoward incidents and despite the fact that only 97 of the 172 NHS Trusts responded the report identified that over 4000 patients were put at serious risk from avoidable errors. Of those reported over 50% were classified as causing severe harm or death.
These figures are obviously very worrying especially as it is a Northwest Hospital which is being identified as an offender. Katherine Murphy, director of the Patients Association, told the newspaper: “These are all avoidable accidents. Patient safety must be paramount in every hospital. Saving money must not be put before patient’s lives”.
The figures sadly confirm the findings of the Healthcare Commission in its annual State of Healthcare report. The report highlighted the fact that one in ten patients admitted to hospital will suffer from an error and around half of these could have been avoided. Errors that have led to patients being harmed include incorrect diagnosis, wrong doses of medication, surgeons operating on the wrong part of the body and paper work going missing.
The most concerning aspect of this information coming to light is the fact that there is no mandatory reporting system for errors. We can therefore only hope that with the increased press coverage of hospital errors, especially in relation to the rise of superbugs and the threat of further Freedom of Information Requests being made, hospital Trusts will be aware that mistakes are more likely to come to light and take a pro-active approach to preventing them occurring in the first place.
Criticism’s can be made of NHS Organisations in relation to a lack of training and staff shortages but individual patients have a duty to report any errors they suspect have occurred, even if they do not result in a serious injury.
Improvements in future care can only be made if the mistakes of the past are identified and lessons learnt. This may of course be achieved through a Solicitor but patients or their families can also utilise the NHS Complaints Procedure. This procedure covers complaints made by a person about any matter connected with the provision of NHS Services by NHS Organisations or Primary Care Practitioners ( i.e. GPs, Dentists, Opticians and Pharmacists). You should normally complain within 6 months of the event concerned or within 6 months of becoming aware that you have something to complain about, although NHS organisations have discretion to waive this time-limit.
If you have been unable to utilise the Complaints Procedure or are not satisfied by the response you have received and are contemplating legal action, our Specialist Team of Clinical Negligence Solicitors are here to help.
Gregory Abrams Davidson LLP specialise in obtaining compensation for client’s who have sustained injury as a result of Clinical Negligence. We have many years of experience dealing with claims against hospitals (both NHS and Private), dentists and general practitioners.
If you would like to enquire about a potential Clinical Negligence claim, you can contact a member of our Team on 0151 733 3353. Calls can be taken 24 hours a day or alternatively e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org