Personal Injury, Serious Injury & Clinical Negligence

Medical Errors in Cornwall Hospitals Identified in Report

The Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, which is responsible for hospitals in Hayle, Penzance and Cornwall’s largest hospital in Truro, has published it’s “Integrated Performance Report” identifying successes and failures across a range of indicators.

Little detail is given of the steps being taken to address the warning notice issued by the CQC following an inspection in June, when the Trust was notified that an element of the care which it provides fell below the legally required standard. A routine CQC inspection is due in January and will hopefully establish that all previously identified failings have been rectified.

An alert has also been generated with regard to the hospitals mortality rate, with 1593 deaths being recorded in the period October 2014 to September 2015, against an expected 1423.

Perhaps of most concern are the 9 serious incidents and 1 “never event” reported in November of 2015. Detail is sparse but the “never event” is identified as “wrong site surgery”, where an operation has been performed on a part of the body other than that intended. Given the procedures now in place to prevent such errors, it is concerning that a major regional hospital should still experience such a failing. The absence of detail as to how serious the event was does not help to induce confidence, although patient confidentiality may well limit the ability to publish greater detail.

The 9 serious incidents range across delays in treatment, system failures, patient falls and radiation exposure. An analysis of complaints also discloses the distress caused to a patient who was wrongly notified that he had bowel cancer.

The fact that this information is in the public domain is a welcome step forward. That it is not reported in a more transparent and detailed report leaves room for improvement. The crucial test is whether the Trust, its management, clinicians and staff generally genuinely draw on these errors as a source of material from which to learn and improve. Improved openness in reporting errors will hopefully lead to learning from mistakes and an improved healthcare service.

If you or a member of your family have experienced treatment in Cornwall that has caused you concern, we at Clarke Willmott would be happy to discuss the matter with you, as we regularly provide advice and representation to clients in Cornwall. Please contact Chris Thorne on 0345 209 1461 or for further information.