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Last year, NHS litigation costs for “Never Events” (preventable healthcare mistakes) were £1.4bn. This does not take into account the cost of actually rectifying these mistakes. The actual number of cases in the UK is relatively low, at 442. Yet, in the US in the same period there were 5,000 such events, whilst in India there were 5,000,000. In contrast to the scale of the issue, the state of the art in the field of error prevention is a paper checklist. The variety and pressurised environment in which surgical errors occur mean that the paper checklist is currently deemed to be inadequate even by the World Health Organisation’s own checklist advisors.


Scalpel develop tools to make surgery safer. Their first product tackles surgical “Never Events” such as “wrong-side surgery” (in which the surgical procedure is performed on the wrong side of the patient) and retained surgical objects (in which instruments are left in the patient’s body after surgery). They improve patient safety with automated checklists and streamline reporting and feedback requirements. Their technology implements “sensor fusion” in the theatre, solving one set of challenges whilst collecting data to train their systems for new applications. They have secured trials with the University of Leeds hospital and Lucerne.
“This is revolutionary. You are building a Smart Hospital.” – Professor Tony Young, National Clinical Lead for Innovation