According to a recently published NHS report, a patient at a hospital in North East England was almost given a prosthetic knee for the wrong leg.
The report also highlighted another significant error at a hospital nearby where a patient had surgery on their elbow instead of their wrist.
The procedures at South Tyneside General Hospital and Sunderland Royal Hospital are being investigated by NHS bosses as so-called “never events”. However, the trust responsible for both hospitals has apologised and stressed that no-one came to serious harm.
‘Never events’ are the terminology used within the NHS to describe serious but preventable errors by staff. According to national NHS figures, there were 496 never events in 2018-19.
In the incident at South Tyneside Hospital, Doctors only realised during surgery that they were attempting to swap the left leg joint with a prosthetic intended for the right leg before they realised the error and corrected it.
The incident was given a minor harm rating by managers and will be investigated further.
The second incident took place on August 2018 where surgeons at Sunderland Royal Hospital who were operating on a patient’s arm performed the procedure at the elbow, rather than at the wrist as originally planned.
This came just months after surgeons at the same hospital had operated on the wrong leg of another patient.
Shaz Wahid, medical director at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “No patient came to any serious harm in relation to the three never events and all have received a full apology.
“Although never events are extremely rare and should never happen, there are risks associated with healthcare and we continue to raise awareness amongst our staff of the systems and safeguards we have in place to prevent similar events occurring again.”
Investigations are ongoing and updates are due to be reported back through the clinical commissioning group’s serious incident panel.