Friday, May 10, 2013

Never Event

A Never Event, for those of you in the dark about such things, is a quasi-medical term to describe an unfortunate incident whereby a top surgeon accidentally leaves his Rolex inside a patient’s abdomen after performing some kind of life saving operation. It’s kind of similar to the aeronautical term, Near Miss. Except where Near Miss describes something that is actually a miss (as opposed to the more factually correct Near Hit), Never Event describes an unfortunate event that did actually occur. But never should have.

I’m not sure what the official statistics are but it’s something like for every 100,000 operations in the UK, 750 odd people will wake up after the anaesthetic has worn off to find they have been stolen by rogue gangs of Polish scrap metal dealers intent on liberating the MRI scanner that has accidentally been left inside their colon so they can get their hands on the copper wiring.

In percentage terms you have a 4/1000ths of a percent chance of somnambulistically shoplifting a pair of titanium forceps during a UK hospital operation and then paying for it with months of agonizing pain, another operation to remove it and another 4/1000ths of a percent chance that this time all they’ll leave in you is a cheese straw or a rolled up copy of Heat magazine.

Talk about an embarrassing hernia.

Apparently the bigwig experts are quick to point out that statistically this is bloody good and just shows what a bang-up operation (excuse the pun) the NHS really is. I don’t doubt it at all.

But for the unlucky 750 who inexplicably trigger off airport security scanners even when they’ve stripped down to their skimpies it is cause for little consolation.

And, at the end of the day, it is needless stupidity.

I’m sure that with the simple application of real-world logic Never Events can be eradicated completely from the NHS statistic sheets. And I have the answer.

It hit me the other day when I was in the bank and needed to fill out a deposit form. I didn’t have a pen on me but I knew the bank would have a couple lying around for me to use. Lying around but so cunningly contrived that they would be impossible for me to accidentally steal - either deliberately or in a fit of medical absentmindedness.

Because the bloody things are attached to the walls and surfaces with one of those metallic strings that appear to be made of hundreds of linked ball bearings.

This is what the NHS needs. Every piece of surgical equipment from endoscopes to the smallest laser scalpel needs to be attached to a bit of metallic ball bearing string which is in turn anchored to the hospital infrastructure. Hey presto, no hospital would ever misplace an item of beneficial butchery ever again.

And even if a speculum did end up accidentally deposited inside an OAP’s orifice, just attempting to wheel them out of the operating theatre and back to their ward would soon cause the problem to get flagged up pretty sharpish – especially if surgeons are suddenly garrotting themselves on the tautened string that is now stretched across the entire length of the theatre.

There. I declare operation Never Event a complete 100% success.

Sew him up, nurse, and let’s head down to the pub.

Oh bugger. Has anybody seen my watch?

16 comments:

Gorilla Bananas said...

I hope it's finders keepers for any trinkets left inside the patient. I bet they are a few things you'd want if they were bouncing about inside your entrails.

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: if I suddenly found a pair of huge Fabergé eggs hanging down between my legs my wife would certainly be impressed.

Craig said...

Excellent post. I suggest that you sell the idea to the NHS for £4.3M - a fraction of what they paid for the new computer system they ended up abandoning. I'd like a cut too for suggesting it please.

Steve said...

Craig: certainly, sir. Abdominal or cerebral?

the fly in the web said...

I think I'll set up a 'gender equality indigenous empowered' co op to manufacture the attachments and sell them to the NHS by pretending to be a relative of Jeremy Hunt.
They're bound to bite....they look all PC and Fairtrade by buying these and the enormous price I am asking confirms that I am related to their boss.
I promise to pay you royalties...

English Rider said...

Good idea. I'd improve on it (and update it a tad:) by attaching an electronic anti-theft device to the tools of the trade and making a scanner, hand or drive thru, part of the closing procedure.

Steve said...

The fly in the web: win-win. You're on.

English Rider: that's a great idea - a scanner like they have at the exits of big stores that could beep should anyone get wheeled out with a pair of forceps embedded where the sun don't shine. Hey, we could offer Nectar points too!

Nota Bene said...

It does all seem rather careless to me...but I like your approach.Of course they could also just fit scanners to the theatre door so you'd set the bells chiming if you're still 'overloaded'

Steve said...

Nota Bene: I like the idea of a security guard placing an apprehending hand on your shoulder when you wake from the anaesthetic...

Marginalia said...

I'll be arsed if I'll ferret in someone's butt just to retrieve a surgical clamp. A Rolex - well that's different.

Steve said...

Marginalia: I see you're the kind of person who prefers people to have expensive junk in their trunk...

John Gray said...

The problems with healthcare is that the general public believe that EVERYTHING will be sorted like every commodity we expect to receive in this consumer world..... They forget that health care is complicated, human based, variable and occasionally hit and miss
Expectations are too high....
Health care professionals in general do their best

Not always
But generally

That's life

Steve said...

John: no glib response to that because you are right.

John Gray said...

Sorry...but I needed to say that x

rjchery said...

I'm an expert on surgery, as I watch those great BBC documentaries called Holby City and Casualty! Have you seen how much gossiping and flirting goes on in our operating theatres!!

Steve said...

John: say it loud and say it proud.

rjchery: next time I'm in there I'll take a camcorder with me and film a reality TV show.