THEY ARE incidents that “should not” happen in a safe hospital – but two have taken place at Southampton General since the beginning of the year.

One of the so-called ‘Never Events’ saw a swab left inside the leg wound of a patient for two days, while the other saw a patient have surgery on the wrong part of their hand – an error that was only noticed two weeks later.

Hospital bosses have admitted that this is two more than their target for the last 12 months but reassured patients that lessons have been learned as a result of thorough investigations into both cases.

The most recent incident happened last month, when an 18-year-old man was admitted with a severe soft tissue injury to his left thigh, a possible fractured femur and an open injury to his left knee.

Details from the trust board papers of University Hospital Southampton show he was transferred to theatre for control of the bleeding, removal of damaged tissue in the thigh wound, investigation of the open injury to his knee and suturing of his hand injury.

During the operation the extensive soft tissue injury was packed with swabs and once the bleeding was under control, the damaged and dead tissue was removed. But a couple of days later when surgeons reexamined the patient an “extra” swab was found.

The Never Event – defined as a serious incident that should not happen in a safe organisation – did not cause any complications but was still the subject of an internal investigation to ensure this did not happen again.

The second incident happened at the end of January when a patient was admitted to the surgical day ward to have an operation on his finger.

But the consent form signed that day with the surgeon was for a carpal tunnel release and the wrong procedure was performed under local anaesthetic.

The error was not noted until two weeks later when the dressing was removed.

Initial investigations showed that the mistake was made because the consent form was drawn up from the operation note and not the clinical notes, which had the correct information.

A hospital spokesman said: “While we have an extremely low incidence of ‘never events’ – these two instances occurred over a period during which we performed 45,575 procedures – our aim is to ensure these instances are eliminated completely and we have stringent processes in place to help us try to achieve this.”

In 2011/12 the hospital reported three Never Events and the year before that there were two.