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Tuesday, 29 January, 2002, 10:40 GMT
Blunder parents demand action
Wayne Jowett
Wayne Jowett died following a medical mistake
The parents of a teenager killed by a medical blunder believe not enough is being done to reduce the chances of a similar tragedy.

Wayne Jowett, 18, died in February 2001 after the anti-cancer drug vincristine was wrongly injected into his spine instead of a vein at Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham.

The same mistake has happened 13 times in the UK since 1975, and most of the victims have died as a result.

Many experts say that the design of syringes and bottles should be altered so it is physically impossible to attach a spinal needle to the wrong drug.

However, this has yet to happen, despite the high death toll over the years.

Key meeting

Wayne's father, also called Wayne, and his mother Stella Brackenbury are meeting England's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Liam Donaldson on Tuesday afternoon.

They are to ask for the introduction of the new syringes - they have already supplied the Department of Health with details of two existing designs which they believe could be successful.

Professor Donaldson has already introduced strict instructions to hospitals in an effort to reduce the risk of a similar accident.

These mean that such injections should in future only be given by senior doctors, and a register kept in hospitals of those qualified to do so.

To avoid the possibility of a mix-up, the guidance says that intravenous injections such as vincristine should be given separately from intra-spinal injections.

Safety agency

The Department of Health says it is investigating whether the design of syringes or bottles could be changed to prove fail-safe protection.

A body called the National Patient Safety Agency was set up in July 2001 to create a reporting system for medical accidents and "near misses" in hospitals.

The idea is to spot potential problems early and issue guidance to prevent serious accidents.

The register should be fully operational this year, says the government.

It has pledged to reduce the number of fatal chemotherapy blunders to zero from now onwards.

See also:

19 Apr 01 | Health
Drug blunder death 'accidental'
19 Apr 01 | Health
'Wayne was in a lot of pain'
02 Feb 01 | Health
Drug blunder patient dies
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