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Surgeons left swabs inside their patients
BLUNDERING surgeons left surgical swabs inside two Southampton hospital patients, NHS bosses have revealed.
A similar gaffe happened at the trust which runs the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester.
They were all so-called “never events”, mistakes so serious that experts say they should never happen.
Now hospital bosses at both trusts have been rapped by a health chief and told that such incidents are “completely unacceptable”.
Professor Norman Williams, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said that a surgery safety taskforce would complete a review in the new year.
He said: “However rare these cases are, never should mean never – and avoiding such errors should be the priority of every surgeon.”
It is the first time that NHS England has released detailed information for the number – and type – of “never events” at each hospital trust, between April and September.
A spokesman for University Hospital Southampton Trust, which runs Southampton General and the Princess Anne hospitals, said: “The two incidents both involved retained swabs.
“One involved a trauma patient, which means they came in a critical condition and swabs were applied to stem excessive bleeding prior to entering the theatre and were not part of the swab count.
“Both incidents were fully investigated and the patients were kept fully informed. Neither has suffered any harm as a result of the incident.”
The trust defended its procedures, adding that it insisted upon “quiet theatre”, where swab checks and instrument counts were carried out in absolute silence.
Mary Edwards, chief executive of Hampshire Hospitals Trust, which runs the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester, said: “The swab was removed and the patient suffered no harm.
“We take ‘never events’ very seriously and we are always open with the patients about what has happened, investigating fully to learn lessons for the future.”
The trust said the incident happened at the North Hampshire Hospital in Basingstoke.
NHS England said that its review will lead to standardised operating theatre procedures and better staff education and training.
Dr Mike Durkin, national director of patient safety, said: “People who suffer severe harm because of mistakes can suffer serious physical and psychological effects for the rest of their lives.”
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