The number of NHS errors involving surgeons mistakenly removing body parts and organs has dramatically risen in the last three years.
Official NHS England papers have revealed 54 ‘wrong site surgeries’ were reported in the financial year 2012/13, but in 2015/16 the total had more than doubled, increasing to 135.
Among the most devastating blunders, in June last year a woman had a fallopian tube removed instead of her appendix. The error reduced the chance of the patient being able to naturally conceive another child. NHS notes cited ‘patient pregnant and anatomy distorted’ as an explanation for the error.
The same excuse was applied to a patient whose kidney was ‘inadvertently’ taken out during an operation to remove a pelvic tumour last August.
Another case of ‘wrong site surgery’ included a woman who had her ovaries removed during surgery in December, potentially triggering early menopause.
‘Wrong site surgery’ is classed as a ‘never event’ – a hospital error so serious that it should never happen in the NHS. Also on the list of ‘never events’ are surgical items being left in the body during surgery, the misplacement of feeding tubes and falls from poorly protected windows.
A spokesperson from the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS), said: 'The drive towards greater reporting and transparency of patient safety incidents in the NHS in recent years may partly explain the rise.
‘While these incidents are very rare, never should mean never. Learning from mistakes and using best practice and guidance to avoid such errors should be the priority of every medical and surgical team across the country.’