A hospital has apologised after a patient who was in for a minor procedure was given a vasectomy by mistake.
The man, who has chosen to remain anonymous, had gone to Royal Liverpool Hospital to undergo a routine urological operation. However, clinicians carried out a vasectomy instead. Upon realising their mistake, they attempted to reverse the procedure, but it is currently unclear whether or not this was successful and if the man will be able to father a child.
Dr Peter Williams, medical director at Royal Liverpool Hospital, commented, "We have apologised unreservedly to the patient and we are offering him our full support. We greatly regret the distress this has caused him."
Dr Williams acknowledged this is a "serious incident" and confirmed that a full investigation is being carried out in order to find out exactly why it happened. He said the findings should help to ensure similar mistakes do not occur in the future.
"Since this incident the surgeon has not been carrying out any operations, pending the findings of the investigation," he commented. Dr Williams went on to stress that the hospital takes clinical errors "extremely seriously" and reports them to officials at the NHS trust and sector regulators.
Paul Summers of Trade Union Unison added that the quality of care provided by employees at the Royal is "usually of a high standard" and that cases such as this are rare. However, he suggested that the mistake may have occurred as a result of recent cuts in staffing levels, as they are putting remaining employees under greater pressure.
Slater and Gordon Clinical Negligence Lawyer Ian Cohen believes the case could lead to Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust paying out six-figure compensation for medical negligence.
He said it appears as if there has been a "catastrophic breakdown in procedure" at the hospital, as simple checks put in place to ensure the right patient undergoes the correct operation failed.