Data: investigating “Never events” (easily avoidable medical mistakes)

Here’s an example of where a little knowledge of jargon can give you a useful lead in finding data.

The Eastbourne Herald report on an FOI-led investigation they have done into “easily avoidable mistakes, known in the health service as Never Events”:

“BUNGLING NHS staff removed incorrect teeth and carried out a biopsy on the wrong part of a patient’s body as part of a catalogue of errors in 2010 and 2011.

“…the Herald FOI found there were seven such incidents between October 2010 and November 2011.

“They included wrong hip surgery, a piece of medical equipment known as a protoscope left inside a patient’s body and a failure to remove a throat pack following dental surgery. There was also a biopsy on the wrong part of someone’s body and a guidewire left in a patient after staff fitted a central venus pressure line.”

A quick advanced search for “Never events” filetype:xls brings up a number of spreadsheets with data you can access without an FOI.

Can you do anything with it?

Tip: try changing to your local NHS websites, or try changing filetype:xls to filetype:pdf for reports.

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About Paul Bradshaw

Founder of Help Me Investigate. I'm a visiting professor at City University London's School of Journalism, and run an MA in Online Journalism at Birmingham City University. I publish the Online Journalism Blog, and am the co-author of the Online Journalism Handbook and Magazine Editing (3rd edition). I have a particular interest in Freedom of Information and data journalism.