Why surgeons/doctors who leave square headed screws inside patients are creating big problems for the NHS
Millions of pounds in compensation is being paid out by the NHS to patients who leave operating theatres with surgical equipment left accidentally inside them, and this is starting to cause the NHS major problems as people sue for medical negligenc compensation. Fundamental errors like this do not only damage the finances of the health authorities; they can also ruin the reputation of a good hospital very quickly.
It is estimated that two people a week are affected by errors in procedure that result in a range of foreign objects being left inside their bodies, including surgical swabs, clips and screws. The Government released the figures after a request under the Freedom of Information Act, confirming that the average payout for a compensation claim resulting from an incident such as this is nearly 18,000. This means that the NHS has paid out a total of 9million in the past five years to 550 individuals. Last year the highest payout was to a person who had the tip of a needle left inside them, resulting in a settlement of 115,000. The amount of the compensation shows how seriously the NHS takes cases of medical negligence. The real worry for many is that these figures may not truly reflect the number of incidences of equipment being left inside a person after an operation, as many patients do not even realise that there is a problem until years later.
The NHS claims that these incidences, although easily avoidable, do happen because of oversights by doctors under pressure in stressful situations , although claims experts dispute that any situation is stressful enough to allow an error such as this to occur. The NHS also claims that overweight patients are more at risk because their extra body mass can make it difficult to spot equipment that has been left behind.
The National Patient Safety Agency have drawn up a list of never events , events which should never happen in the course of patient care, which includes foreign objects being left inside the body after an operation. This list is currently out for consultation and is the result of Lord Darzi s review of the NHS. A never event is defined as errors in medical care that are clearly identifiable, preventable, and serious in their consequences for patients, and that indicate a real problem in the safety and credibility of a health care facility. These types of problems will nearly always lead to someone suing the doctor or surgeon involved as the consequences are often serious. Stopping them can significantly reduce the amount of compensation paid.
Claims solicitors specialising in medical negligence feel that such events are completely avoidable and are cases of lapses in fundamental patient care or an error of judgement on the part of surgical staff. A specialist claims solicitor with experience in medical negligence claims should be consulted if it is thought that a never event that includes a foreign object being left in a patient after surgery has occurred. Medical negligence claims are notoriously complex and it requires a detailed knowledge of the law as it applies to this particular field to pursue a claim successfully. Specialist solicitors will not only have plenty of experience in this area, but will also have access to medical experts with whom they can consult on the more complex aspects of each individual case.
If you think that this issue may affect you, talk to a claims solicitor that has direct experience in disputes with the NHS. Claims not only compensate those who have suffered as a direct result of medical negligence, but they can also help health trusts to put in place new procedures that can prevent a repeat of the situation in the future.