Hundreds of blunders deemed so serious they should “never happen” have taken place in NHS facilities in the space of just nine months.
Official figures reveal that 314 “Never Events” had been reported in the health service in the period between April 16th and the end of December last year.
Some of the most troubling incidents included surgical implements being left inside patients following an operation or a procedure being carried out on the wrong part of the body.
Shocking cases of mistaken identity saw a number of individuals undergo completely unnecessary procedures such as lumbar punctures, laser eye surgery and the insertion of a heart monitor.
There were also 75 recorded cases of foreign objects, including cotton buds, throat swabs and part of a drill, being left inside patients.
Overdoses of medication and an incident in which a patient was given the wrong type of blood during a transfusion were also flagged up.
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients’ Association, said: “We are concerned by recent data published by NHS Improvement. Never Events are precisely that, events that should never, ever happen.
“The fact that they are occurring should ring alarm bells in trusts, with Clinical Commissioning Groups, NHS England and the Department of Health.
“There are no excuses for failing to follow medical protocols as it could be the difference between life and death.”
Dr Mike Durkin, the NHS national director of patient safety, said it was essential for trusts to be honest when such grave errors were made.
“All patients deserve high quality, safe care,” he said. “We expect organisations to investigate and learn from mistakes, and the fact that more and more NHS staff take the time to report incidents is good evidence that this learning is happening locally.”