PHIN reports first comprehensive data on private sector ‘never events’

The first comprehensive dataset of ‘never events’ in the private healthcare sector has been published today by the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN).

In calendar 2019, 21 such events were reported across privately funded patient activity carried out in independent hospitals and NHS private patient units. These included five incidents of wrong-site surgery, 11 cases where the wrong implant/ prosthesis was used, two reports of retained foreign objects post-procedure, one mis-selection of a strong potassium solution and two cases where medication was administered via the wrong route.

‘Never events’ are defined by the NHS as patient safety incidents that are wholly preventable due to the national availability of safety recommendations that provide strong systemic protective barriers. There is no directly comparable data in the NHS, but in the year from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019, 496 never events were recorded in the NHS.

PHIN chair Dr Andrew Vallance-Owen said publication of the ‘never events’ data in the private sector was an‘important step-change in transparency’.

Patients can now get a clearer understanding of the care provided at over 287 independent hospitals and NHS private patient units offering acute private treatments, who between them account for an estimated 86% of privately funded admitted patient care.

Vallance-Owen said the new data would not only help patients decide on the right provider for their care, but would also assist hospitals, consultants and others within the sector.

‘Never events have to be reported so that lessons are learnt and actions taken to ensure they cannot happen again. This means that the reporting, investigation and learning is a powerful safety ‘call to action’ in itself and should always lead to an improvement in processes and quality of care as a result.  We hope publication of this information will stimulate that process of continuous improvement,’ he added.