By: 7 March 2024
NHS trusts acknowledge accidental limb amputations

In the span of the last three years, a hospital has admitted to the mistaken removal of limbs from six individuals. Disclosures from over a dozen NHS trusts have acknowledged similar accidental amputations of arms or legs. Sarah Rowland, medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell‘s Sheffield office, comments on the revelations.


Never events

York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust disclosed that six patients have undergone limb amputations due to medical errors over a three-year period. This accounted for the highest number of such incidents reported by any NHS trust in the UK. Specifically, the trust conducted four amputations in 2020 and two in 2021, all stemming from medical negligence.

Through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests by Accident Claims, it came to light that several NHS trusts nationwide had committed life-altering amputations mistakenly within the past three years. For instance, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have acknowledged two such incidents. These events, categorised as ‘never events’ by the NHS, represent serious, largely preventable patient safety breaches.

Medway NHS Foundation Trust in Kent confirmed five cases of amputations resulting from medical negligence. The trust performed one amputation in 2021, three in 2022, and another in 2023.


What are the experts saying?

Sarah Rowland, an expert medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, commented: “Wrong site surgery is classed as a never event, and in turn, never events are classed as such because they shouldn’t happen. However, sadly we continue to see the effects such incidents have on patients.

“The life-changing consequences of these errors will have had a devastating impact on not only the patients, but also their families. They could have been easily avoided if proper checks were carried out. Instead those patients affected are now likely to need access to specialist support and therapies for the rest of their lives.

“The number of never events that the NHS is continuing to record is worrying. As with these cases, every time a never event occurs, it’s vital that they’re thoroughly investigated and that information is shared across the NHS so that they can eliminate such issues to protect patients from suffering unnecessary harm.”


Several other NHS trusts, including The George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust, East Kent Hospitals University Trust, and Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, reported instances of amputations due to negligence. Others, such as Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, refrained from disclosing specific numbers due to patient confidentiality concerns but provided estimated figures.


Image: Canva.
Emma Cockings
Emma is the content editor for Yorkshire Legal News. Emma is an experienced writer with a background in client-centric personal injury law for a major firm. She has attended and reported on numerous high-profile legal events in Yorkshire.