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New NHS checklist means surgeons can double check who they kill

In News, Public Sector on February 2, 2010 at 09:10

A new safety checklist has been introduced for all NHS hospitals, with the aim of ensuring that doctors and surgeons are killing all the right patients.

Use of the checklist, devised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) is compulsory and surgeons will now have to double check their patient’s identity, diagnosis and proposed treatment, before butchering them in much the same manner as before.

According to the NHS National Patient Safety Agency, in 2007 there were 129,000 reported surgical errors, which resulted in severe harm to more than 1,000 patients and the deaths of 271.

"Er, Bob.....is it supposed to be doing that?"

“I think this is a great idea,” said leading neurosurgeon William Stack, 52, from Huddersfield. “Before, I just used to wander into the operating theatre and start drilling away at the first person I saw. We went through a lot of nurses that way, I seem to recall.

“But now, not only do I have to check if I’ve got the right patient, I also have to check what I’m doing to them. It’s great! Never again will I face the embarassment of amputating somebody’s leg when they came in for brain surgery.”

The new safety protocol has been inspired by the pre-flight checks routine in the airline industry, leading to calls from some that they could render operations unsafe.

“My husband went in for a relatively minor operation on his back, and was surprised at how similar it was to the in-flight experience,” said Marjorie Lelland, 63, from Dorset.

“They woke him up once during the procedure to offer a hot towel, twice to offer a selection of drinks and a bag of peanuts, and then again just before the end to ask him to put the operating table upright. He also said the film was rubbish.”

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said: “This checklist is a giant step in ensuring that the right people are killed or, at the very least, severely maimed, by the NHS, which is, after all the most important thing.  I mean, what if somebody vaguely important that somebody had actually heard of had to use the NHS in an emergency and ended up being killed or maimed by accident?

“That would never do.  No, it’s important to prioritise these things.”

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