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?