Kelley Uustal Trial Attorney
May 26, 2014

Surgical “Never Events” Are Shockingly Common in the U.S.

Thousands of surgeries take place every day. When a patient goes in for surgery, they are putting their trust, health, and life into the hands of a skilled and competent doctor. However, according to the research done at John Hopkins University, events that should never take place during surgery (“never events”) happen at least 4,000 times a year, throughout the United States. The findings, published in Surgery, exposes that over 80,000 “never events” occurred between 1990 and 2010.

A “never event” is a sort of medical mistake that should never happen and is 100% preventable. It is estimated that approximately 39 times a week, a surgeon leaves a foreign object inside the patient, including towels or sponges. Additionally, surgeons perform the wrong surgery or operate on the wrong part of the body about 20 times per week. Researches have also found that on an average, 15 errors occur during normal surgery. About 24% of these errors are due directly to equipment failure. Sadly, surgeons that were involved in “never events” were usually found to be involved in other incidents as well.

Safety procedures are present in hospitals and medical centers to help prevent “never events” from occurring, including:

  • Establishing of mandatory “time-outs” in operating rooms, which allows the team to match the surgical plans with the patient
  • Mandatory counting of items, such as sponges and towels both before and after surgery by the surgical team.
  • Requirement that all surgery sites are to be marked with indelible ink.

Even with all these procedures set into action, more needs to be done. Marty Makary, M.D., M.P.H., an associate professor of surgery at John Hopkins University School of Medicine, stresses the importance of informing the public about “never events.” It not only makes patients research hospitals and doctors, but it also puts pressure on the hospitals to maintain quality of care.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a surgical error, it is important to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney in Fort Lauderdale as soon as possible. Your lawyer will review your case, go over all of your legal options, and perform a thorough investigation of the incident.

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