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Never Events - Clinical Negligence

In Vietnam, just before the New Year, a man attended hospital following a road traffic accident. He was complaining about stomach pains and was taken for an X-Ray, which surprisingly revealed a pair of surgical scissors within his abdomen. The particularly curious thing was that 18 years has passed since his previous surgery which, ironically, had  also followed a road traffic accident. The doctors duly carried out surgery to retrieve the medical scissors that had been left inside by their colleagues. 

In 2014 in Kazakhstan a 20cm (8in) surgical clamp was found in the abdomen of a man following an operation 13 years earlier. In 2013 in Worcestershire a woman was left with a pair of forceps inside her for three months.

These events are referred to as "Never Events", which are serious, largely preventable patient safety incidents that should not occur if existing guidance of safety recommendations have been implemented by healthcare providers. Never Events primarily include wrong site surgery and retained foreign objects.

Such events are rare but not unheard of and occur within Britain's own NHS. NHS Improvement has just released the provisional publication of Never Events reported as occurring between 1 April and 31 December 2016. In this publication is it reported that 314 Never Events occurred in the final three quarters of 2016.

In in the last three quarters of 2016, 75 foreign objects were retained post procedure. These included drill guide or drill bits (or parts thereof), file, wires, bags, sponges, forceps, needles, swabs and so forth.

Wrong site surgery on either the principle patient or even the wrong patient altogether occurred 133 times, including instances such as cervical biopsy rather than rectal biopsy, incision on wrist instead of thumb or fingers, and a lumbar puncture intended for another patient.

Once a patient becomes a victim of a Never Event they should be eligible for compensation not only for the event in itself but also for any loss suffered as a direct result of the incident.

Ashfords' Clinical Negligence Team has extensive experience in successfully bringing claims for Never Events from laser eye-surgery, dental surgery, cosmetic reconstructive surgery and many others.

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