An “extremely worrying” incident during a hospital operation left a man with third-degree burns.
Mike Wilcock, 58, suffered burns to his hip and buttock when an electric mattress overheated during routine surgery to remove a non-cancerous cyst from his kidney at Maidstone Hospital in Kent.
It is common to use electric mattresses to ensure a patient is kept warm during an operation because a general anaesthetic affects the ability of the body to regulate its own temperature.
When a patient gets too cold it can be dangerous as it can impact on the way that the blood clots, which in turn increases the risk of bleeding.
Heat sensor error
But a heat sensor for the mattress, which was meant to be placed on Mr Wilcock’s body to monitor his temperature, was instead put on a cold saline bag.
Mr Wilcock, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, needed an emergency skin graft because all three layers of his skin suffered burns damage in an area measuring 8in by 6in.
The health and safety inspector spent a week in a specialist burns hospital to have the dead tissue removed and undergo the skin graft after the incident in September 2012.
Staff were found to have inadequate training and knowledge to ensure the mattress was operated correctly following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act at a hearing last month.
Laura Craig, from law firm Slater & Gordon, which represented Mr Wilcock, said the case was worrying and could have turned out even worse if the incident had involved a more vulnerable patient.
Source: Daily Mail
Date Published: October 16, 2014
Author: David Brown