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West Suffolk Hospital apologises after staff operate on wrong patient

PUBLISHED: 12:19 11 September 2017 | UPDATED: 14:34 12 September 2017

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: SIMON PARKER

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: SIMON PARKER


West Suffolk Hospital has apologised after an embarrassing error saw the wrong procedure carried out on one of its patients.

The Bury St Edmunds hospital said the serious incident, referred to as a “never event”, happened in March and “no harm was caused to the patient involved”.

An investigation into the incident has now been concluded, but the hospital has not revealed how the mistake happened, the type of operation or the gender of the patient.

The blunder involved an outpatient procedure and the hospital says a “robust and thorough” investigation was launched immediately.

The Suffolk hospital added steps have been taken to avoid any such incidents happening again.

According to the NHS, “never events” are serious, entirely preventable safety breaches which have the potential to cause serious patient harm or death.

Although serious harm or death is not required to have happened as a result of a specific incident for it to be categorised as a “never event”.

Rowan Procter, chief nurse at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Very disappointingly, a ‘never event’ occurred in March relating to an outpatient procedure.

“Although no harm was caused to the patient involved, we immediately undertook a robust and thorough investigation.

“This has now been completed and steps have been taken to ensure as far as possible that this doesn’t happen again.

“We take incidents like this very seriously, as we support the philosophy that they are wholly preventable.

“Patient safety remains our top priority and we work with staff to continually improve our processes and procedures.

“We have apologised to the patient involved, and are grateful for their cooperation and involvement throughout the investigation process.”

Professor Stephen Dunn, chief executive of the NHS trust at West Suffolk Hospital, said the patient was made aware of the error before having a further procedure.

Speaking at the board of directors meeting at the hospital on March 31, he said: “It is with regret that I report that we have declared a never event during March in relation to a patient who had a procedure in outpatients.

“The patient was made aware of the error before having a further procedure.”

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