Thousands of botched operations in Scottish hospitals

A parliamentary question by the Liberal Democrats has revealed that more than 3,000 patients’ organs were accidentally cut or punctured during surgery over the past five years.

From the Scotsman:

The figures, obtained by Ross Finnie, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, reveal a series of mistakes, including unintentional cuts during operations, and failure of sterile precautions during surgery.

The errors also include instances where “foreign bodies” were accidentally left in a patient’s body during surgery, and an “inappropriate” operation being carried out.

Mr Finnie, who obtained the statistics through parliamentary answers, said: “Most patients will accept that undergoing operations is not without a certain element of risk. But 5,514 operations have been botched in Scottish hospitals over the past five years. These statistics may include minor errors, but our figures show that over 3,000 patients have incurred damage to their organs as a result.”

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This entry was posted in News and Scotland.


  • Herbert Brown 6th Aug '09 - 11:22am


    From the Scotsman article:
    A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said 1.2 million surgical procedures were carried out in 2008.

  • Malcolm Todd 6th Aug '09 - 11:47am

    This is rather distasteful scaremongering. A serious error rate of 1 in 400 operations doesn’t sound bad to me, though you would need comparative statistics (and an indication of how many of those 1.2 million ‘surgical procedures’ were so minor as to render puncturing of organs effectively impossible) to really judge it. And it’s quite unjustifiable to use the word ‘botched’ in this way. Some operations are phenomenally complicated, difficult, and time-pressured. To consider every instance of a slip in any circumstances as ‘botching’ an operation is extremely unfair and calculated to cause unnecessary alarm for people facing surgery.

  • Herbert Brown 6th Aug '09 - 11:56am

    “A serious error rate of 1 in 400 operations doesn’t sound bad to me …”

    I think it’s actually 1 in 2,000, as the 3,000 incidents occurred over a five-year period, during which there would presumably have been about 6 million operations (1.2 million per year).

    I agree more information would be needed to assess this figure sensibly.

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