Never Events Happen Far More Often Than Never

Never Events Happen Far More Often Than Never

You would never expect a surgeon to live a sponge, towel, or gauze inside of a patient. You would never think that a surgeon could perform the wrong procedure. You would never imagine in a thousand years that a surgeon would operate on the wrong body part! And you certainly would never accept any excuse a surgeon who committed such an egregious mistake.

Aptly named "never events" are something that should never happen in the operating room, and that the medical community can never forgive if it does. And yet, "never events" happen day in and day out. What is causing these "never events" and what is being done to prevent them in the future?

Study of "Never Events"

At the end of 2012, John Hopkins Medicine completed a rigorous study – seen in a full article here – of the frequency, causes, and consequences of "never events", and the results were less than promising.

According to their conservative estimates, each week:

  • 39 foreign objects are left inside a patient's body.
  • 20 incorrect procedures are performed.
  • 20 operations are performed on the wrong body part.

Those numbers add up to more than 4,000 "never events" occurring each year in the United States, and the number could be even higher. If the mistake is never reported, never identified, or not severe enough to require additional treatments, it was probably invisible to the study.

Out of the twenty years of research and data the study collected and examined – that is roughly 80,000 "never events" – only a mere 9,744 ended in paid medical malpractice claims for a total of $1.3 billion in damages. This statistic is alarming when compared to the percentage of people harmed or killed by the "never events": 6.6% passed away due to complications, 32.9% were permanently injured, and another 59.2% were injured temporarily.

The causes of "never events" are blurred in the statistics. They are clearly happening but exacting what is causing them is difficult, as the most common reason seems to be commonplace negligence and human forgetfulness. Hospitals have procedures already in place to do everything possible to stop a "never event" from occurring, like marking the surgery site with ink or counting all tools before and after the operation, but all the protocols in the world can do nothing to stop a doctor that is not focusing on the task at hand.

If "never events" are to become truly preventable and actually never occur, further study will be required and additional punishments must be enforced upon negligent doctors and surgeons. In the meantime, it is up to individual patients to file medical malpractice claims against the medical practitioners who do them harm. At David C. Rash P.A., our Miami medical malpractice attorney can front your claim, analyze your case, and bring a powerful argument to the courtroom on your behalf.

See what 25+ years of experience can do for you. Contact us today.

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