Secret scandal of faulty NHS equipment that kills hundreds of patients a year
- Over past decade there have been almost 100,000 reports of failed devices
- This involved 2,300 deaths and 22,000 injuries but could be just a fraction
- The MHRA says it fears the true toll could be more than five times as bad
- Most frequent failures have been in expensive, high‑tech equipment
On a cold Monday in February 2012, 46-year-old Merseyside police officer Mike Cawson became a tragic statistic — one of hundreds of NHS patients injured or killed each year when medical devices fail.
PC Cawson, who was suffering from heart failure, was being rushed by ambulance from Royal Liverpool University Hospital for life-saving surgery in a specialist cardiac unit at Manchester’s Wythenshawe Hospital. He never made it. His failing heart was relying on a special pump — a portable version of an intra-aortic balloon pump, inserted into his main artery.Such pumps, which inflate and deflate a balloon in the artery, are used as temporary support for the heart in patients who are awaiting urgent cardiac surgery.
But half-way through the 40-mile drive to the hospital where the specialist team was on standby to perform an emergency operation, the battery powering his pump failed.
Internal hospital documents obtained by Good Health reveal that the battery, which had been fully charged before the ambulance journey, was faulty.
With no spare battery on board, the transfer team from the Royal Liverpool were helpless and the ambulance was forced to divert to nearby Warrington Hospital, where the balloon had to be removed (an inactive balloon can quickly cause blood clots to form). Read more: