Hospitals use the term “never event” to refer to unacceptable surgical mistakes. “Never events” include mistakenly forgetting a surgical instrument inside a patient’s body (known as a “foreign retained object”), performing the wrong procedure, or operating on the wrong body part.
These errors are simultaneously serious and completely preventable – surgeons should never commit them. According to a new study from Johns Hopkins University, however, American surgeons harm more than 4,000 patients in “never events” every year. From a medical malpractice perspective, this is an unacceptably high rate.
The research also broke the statistics down to look at how often “never events” happen on a weekly basis:
Â· “Foreign retained object” errors affect 39 patients per week.
Â· Surgeons perform the wrong procedure around 20 times in the same week.
Â· Another 20 patients suffer unnecessarily from a surgery on the wrong body part.
Hospitals can easily avoid these mistakes by implementing simple new policies. For example, some hospitals require “timeout” periods before surgeons can start a procedure. This period provides a set window of time within which surgeons and staff members should carefully check the patient’s documentation confirm that they are performing the right operation.
Because these mistakes are so avoidable, “never events” often result in strong medical malpractice claims. Patients and their families should contact an experienced Columbus medical malpractice lawyer to discuss their options after suffering from a surgical error.
Source: Infection Control Today, “Johns Hopkins Malpractice Study Reveals Surgical ‘Never Events’ Occur at Least 4,000 times Annually,” Dec. 19, 2012