‘Foreign objects’ left inside two patients

Two patients who underwent operations while under the care of Surrey and Sussex NHS Healthcare Trust were left with foreign objects inside their bodies after surgery, it has been revealed.

Surrey and Sussex NHS Healthcare trust which runs East Surrey Hospital recorded two incidents known as ‘never events’ during the last four years (2009-2012). The Department of Health categorizes the incidents as ‘never events’ because they are so serious they should never happen. The category includes serious mistakes such as operating on the wrong part of the body, or misidentification of patients.

The trust has carried out more than 70,000 planned operations during the last four years. A spokeswoman for SASH said it was unable to say which objects had been left inside the two patients post operation. But Des Holden, medical director for Surrey and Sussex NHS Healthcare Trust, said the trust deeply regretted any ‘never event’. He said: “Between 2009 and 2012 we carried out over 72,000 planned operations (not including emergency surgery) and deeply regret any ‘never event’ when it happens. We fully investigate any ‘never event’ and address theatre team working through the WHO safer surgery checklist. All surgeons and anaesthetists have received individual copies of the safer surgery guidance. They sign that they have read this and where necessary they are performance managed against this guidance.”

Across Sussex 21 ‘never events’ have been recorded in the counties hospitals in the last four years. This included five operations on the wrong parts of the body. A spokesman for NHS England South said: “In recent years the NHS in England has made significant strides in improving patient safety and the reporting of ‘never events’is a symptom of this. ‘Never events’ are very rare and if and when they do occur, they do not always result in severe harm or death. However, they are called, ‘never events’ because they should never happen. A single incidence of a ‘never event’ is one too many.” NHS England said it is investigating the number of never events nationally.