Hospital says sorry after surgery blunder

Medical director Dr Mark O'Donnell
Medical director Dr Mark O'Donnell
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Health bosses at Blackpool Victoria Hospital have apologised to a patient after a surgeon accidentally removed the wrong mole on their back.

The ‘never event’ - a mistake so serious it should never happen - was one of three committed by doctors at the Whinney Heys Road hospital in the past three years, it has been revealed.

The error meant the patient was forced to undergo the knife again, although he came to ‘no harm’, the hospital said.

Royal College of Surgeons president Clare Marx said: “This data shows an unacceptable level of preventable mistakes are still happening in the NHS. While these cases are rare, never should mean never.”

The error, described as ‘wrong site surgery’ in NHS England data, happened in October and was the hospital’s only never event between April and December last year, the most up-to-date figures available.

In 2014/15 there were none, and in 2013/14 there were two.

The hospital’s medical director, Prof Mark O’Donnell, said October’s incident saw the wrong mole removed while the patient was under local anaesthetic.

He said: “The patient came to no harm and was informed of the error as soon as it was identified and an apology was given.

“The patient elected to have the correct procedure which was performed uneventfully.

“In any never event, the trust conducts a detailed investigation to establish what happened, identify any learning and make recommendations for improvement.

“As a result of this case we have altered our checking processes so that the situation cannot recur.”

Nationally, more than 1,100 patients have been victims of never events in the past four years.

More than 400 people suffered due to wrong site surgery, while more than 420 had ‘foreign objects’ left inside them after operations, including gauzes, swabs, drill guides, scalpel blades, and needles.

In one case, a man had a testicle removed instead of just the cyst on it, while a woman had a kidney removed instead of an ovary.

One patient had a biopsy taken from their liver instead of their pancreas.

Others have suffered when feeding tubes meant to be fed into their stomachs were mixed up with others, while some were given the wrong blood type during transfusions.