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Study: "Never events" happen much more often than never


Posted by Thomas Pettinicchi of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Dec 25, 2012 in Surgical Errors

In the medical field, there are certain events that happen during a surgery which are universally considered to be completely avoidable. These are occurrences that should never happen and are therefore referred to as "never events." Although surgical professionals are never supposed to let these mistakes happen, a recent study indicates that not only do they happen, but they happen at a high rate.

These never events include surgical errors or lapses in judgment that can happen to anyone. Whether a doctor leaves a surgical tool inside a patient, operates on the wrong body part or performs the wrong procedure, these avoidable errors are putting thousands of patients in danger every year.

The study is believed to be the first of its kind. It was conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins who were focused on confirming that never events were taking place in high numbers so that they could begin working on solutions. Some of the checks are highly technological and advanced while others are as simple as marking a surgical site with a marker. While many hospitals in Connecticut and nationwide have some set of procedural checks in place to try and avoid these never events, many of them are insufficient or ineffective.

If you or a loved one has been injured or died due to a surgeon's negligence contact one of our New Haven medical malpractice lawyers today. 

As the name suggests, these never events should never be allowed to happen in surgery. According to the study, however, a surgeon leaves a foreign object inside a patient 39 times every week. About 20 patients are the recipients of the wrong procedure every week, and 20 patients have the wrong body part operated on every week. This adds up to about 80,000 never events happening between 1990 and 2010, or roughly 4,000 times every year. This is likely a very conservative estimate, since many errors are not reported.

While doctors and surgeons are certainly human and capable of making mistakes, the victims of these mistakes are often injured, sickened or killed because of these errors. Therefore, it is necessary to hold them and hospital facilities responsible for a tragic error that could have, and should have, been prevented. 

Source: Infection Control Today, "Johns Hopkins Malpractice Study Reveals Surgical 'Never Events' Occur at Least 4,000 Times Annually," Dec. 19, 2012