Overworked medical staff made 4000 avoidable errors last year

Overworked medical staff made 4,000 "avoidable" errors last year, it has been revealed.

More than half of the blunders - 2,221 - resulted in deaths, injuries and patients being left in severe pain, according to figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request.

Mistakes included surgeons operating on the wrong person or part of the body, doctors making wrong diagnoses and prescribing dangerous doses of medication.

In one case in the North West a patient under the care of the Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust underwent the wrong urological procedure in May.

In July, a chest drain that had been wrongly inserted punctured a patient's heart and in another case in October a tube was dislodged from the windpipe of a patient who later had a heart attack and died.

Katherine Murphy, director of the Patients' Association, said: "These are all avoidable accidents. Patient safety must be paramount in every hospital. Saving money must not be put before patients' lives."

A Department of Health spokesman said: "The quality and safety of healthcare is improving all the time. Patient safety is paramount and the vast majority of the millions of people treated in the NHS every year receive excellent healthcare.

"Unfortunately, as in any health service, unforeseen incidents occasionally happen."

Medical errors put patients at risk (ITV, 13 April 2009)