Reevesey's recommended reading

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Botched operations and surgical errors

Well done to Ross Finnie MSP for getting the answer to his question about "botched" operations.

The headline in today's Metro on page nine "Finnie: 5,000 botched ops in last five years" is quite alarming but as my friend and colleague Caron says "please don't panic".

However, as Ross Finnie has uncovered these figures appear quite alarming, but are they really down to negligence? I suspect not. Are they down to surgeons rushing to comply with government targets? Maybe, maybe not.

What they do show is that a little more patience and care is required and less rushing around.

The Health Boards, especially, and mainly the staff do a wonderful job and often thankless but patients have a right to go in for an operation and leave again without bits of hospital equipment left inside them.

The figures released in the Parliamentary answer to Ross show that in the last 5 years, 3106 people have suffered some sort of organ damage through cuts being made in the wrong place or errors such as leaving swabs inside a wound - which really does sound uncomfortable.

The first thing Caron asked herself when she saw this was "how many operations took place in Scotland during this period." Fortunately Caron didn't have to look very far, because the Scotsman had done it for her - 1.2 million operations took place during 2008. If you multiply that by five, that gives 6 million. On these figures, the risk of surgical error is tiny - 0.0919% of an error happening, 0.05% chance of organ damage.

So, don't panic, and trust the Health Boards.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The calculations are all mine:-) Anna told me off for using her calculator to make them. The Hootsmon just gave the 1.2 million figure and I did the extrapolations myself.

I think it's really important to highlight these surgical errors, even though they are comparatively small in number because this is something that shouldn't be happening.

I'm impressed with Ross for the liberal, practical way he's carrying out his work. He's opposed the daft SNP plans for preventing adults from buying alcohol in off licenses till they're 21 and he realises that it's stupid to make small shopkeepers spend a fortune remodelling their counters to put cigarettes out of sight.

For some reason it won't let me sign in so I'm going to have to be anonymous but it's me:-)


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