HEADING to hospital for any kind of surgery makes the majority of people a little nervous. After all, you are placing your health in the trust of complete strangers while you are under local or general anaesthetic.
In the vast majority of cases surgical outcomes are extremely positive and we should be thankful to the dedication and skill of our nurses and doctors.
However, as our exclusive story shows today, things do go wrong.
In one incident in May this year a swab was left inside a patient who underwent bowel surgery.
In another blunder – also at the Western General – a patient slid off the operating table headfirst in the middle of surgery on their appendix.
Thankfully, in neither incident did the patient suffer long-term problems.
Worryingly, NHS Lothian admits that a “number of other incidents” have occurred in recent months.
Mistakes do happen but the inquiry into both these errors has revealed common factors. These fundamental issues are now being addressed by NHS Lothian.
Most serious of all is weak teamworking between different levels of staff, which will require a cultural overhaul.
But perhaps most alarming for ordinary patients will be the idea that staff are being distracted by mobile phones and idle conversation.
Why on earth would health staff require a mobile phone when they should be focused on the needs of the patient on front of them?
Health bosses are now looking to the safety culture within the aviation and nuclear industries in an effort to reduce errors.
It is right that we have respect for our medical profession.
But when mistakes happen, and happen again, we must challenge the culture and demand change. Our lives could depend on it.