Study: Surgical never events are an all too common danger

A study conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins found that numerous surgical never events happen each year, and often cause harm to patients.

Often, people throughout Chicagoland require surgical interventions. When they go under the knife, patients place their lives in the hands of their surgeons. Unfortunately, surgical mistakes commonly occur, which put patients at risk for additional ailments, worsened medical conditions or death. While people may believe that such errors are few and far between, according to one study, a number of patients fall victim to preventable surgical mistakes each year.

What are surgical never events?

Some medical mistakes that occur in the operating room are avoidable. However, others are considered totally preventable. Since it is generally accepted that these preventable errors should never occur, they are commonly known as surgical never events. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality points out that some of the most common mistakes that fall into this category include the following:

· Carrying out a procedure on the wrong patient

· Executing the wrong surgical procedure

· Operating on the wrong limb

· Unintentionally leaving foreign objects in a patient

Additionally, the use of contaminated medical devices may be considered a surgical never event. Administering contaminated medications may also qualify as this type of preventable surgical error. These types of medical mistakes may be avoided if health care providers adhere to the appropriate safety protocols.

Studying the occurrence and severity of surgical never events

Researchers from Johns Hopkins conducted a study to better understand how often surgical never events occur. They also sought to examine the effects and causes of these types of medical mistakes. For the study, the researchers studied data for medical malpractice claims from the National Practitioner Data Bank. They identified medical malpractice settlements and judgments that were related to surgical never events. The researchers evaluated the payment amounts, patient outcomes and provider characteristics for these cases.

Surgical never events result in serious harm to patients

According to the Wall Street Journal, the study found that over 4,000 surgical never events occur each year. Six percent of the cases the researchers examined resulted in death. The patient suffered permanent injury in 32.9 percent of the cases and temporary injuries in 59.2 percent of the cases that they studied. Thus, based on the study's findings, surgical never events continue to occur, despite being preventable. Furthermore, they often result in additional or worsened medical conditions for patients who fall victim to them.

Common causes of surgical never events

There are numerous factors that contribute to the occurrence of preventable surgical errors. One of the most common of which is poor communication. Additionally, fatigue and distractions frequently play a role in causing surgical never events. These types of mistakes may also occur when medical professionals fail to comply with the appropriate safety procedures.

Obtaining legal representation

When preventable surgical mistakes are made, procedures that should be routine may become dangerous and harmful for patients throughout Illinois, and elsewhere. As a result, patients may require additional treatment and care, which often carries undue expenses. Thus, those who have experienced such errors may benefit from consulting with an attorney. A lawyer may help them to understand their options for pursuing financial compensation, as well as if their conditions were the result of a preventable medical error.