Never Events: Medical Mistakes that Should Never Happen
Johns Hopkins University safety researchers recently conducted an exhaustive
study regarding the frequency of “never events”—which
refer to the types of medical mistakes that should never happen. In this
study, it was discovered that, on average, medical professionals throughout
the U.S. are:
- Leaving foreign objects in a patient’s body 39 times a week
- Performing the wrong procedure on a patient 20 times a week
- Operating on the wrong part of the body 20 times a week
According to reports from
Surgery, an online medical journal, it is estimated that 80,000 never events occurred
in American hospitals between 1990 and 2010. Their findings were the first
to quantify the national rate of these so-called “never events,”
shedding light on the prevalence of this problem.
Understanding the High Cost of “Never Events”
According to Marty Makary, M.D., M.P.H., an associate professor of surgery
at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and study leader, “This
study highlights that we are nowhere near where we should be.” When
Makary and his colleagues conducted further research into the issue, they
discovered that 9,744 malpractice claims involved never events between
1990 and 2010.
These claims resulted in total payments of $1.3 billion for victims and
their families. They also discovered that, in regard to never events,
patient death occurred in 6.6% of cases, permanent injury occurred in
32.9% of cases, and temporary injury occurred in 59.2% of cases. In conclusion,
Makary and his colleagues have estimated that 4,044 surgical never events
occur in the U.S. every year.
What Is Being Done to Solve This Issue?
To prevent never events, many medical centers will use standard patient
safety procedures. These may include mandatory “timeouts,”
wherein the surgeons must match the medical records and surgical plans
to the patient before beginning the operation, indelible ink to mark the
surgical site on the patient’s body, procedures for counting sponges,
towels, and surgical items prior to surgery, and more.
However, even with these procedures in place, never events continue to
happen. In fact, Domina Law Group pc llo recently resolved a
medical malpractice claim involving a never event—which caused our client to suffer
a permanent impairment of her limb. “We have another such case in
progress now,” explains Dave Domina. If you too have been injured
by a never event, please give us a call today.
Our Omaha personal injury lawyers have recovered more than $2 billion for
past clients. Find out how Domina Law Group pc llo can assist you by
calling our office today: (888) 387-4134.