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The rate of ‘never events’ in surgical procedures

On Behalf of Cronin & Maxwell

Florida patients may be interested to learn that the medical field considers certain medical complications to be “never events.” These are errors that should never occur. Never events involve patients who get surgery on the wrong body part, undergo a procedure that they were not scheduled for or have a procedure that was meant for another patient.

While some never event cases can receive a large amount of publicity, it is estimated that these errors occur in one of 112,000 surgical procedures. This essentially means that an individual hospital may only have a never event occur once every five to 10 years. It should be noted, however, that these numbers only refer to never events that occur in an operating room. There are many procedures that are performed in other settings. When never events occurring from these procedures are taken into account, the rate of error is higher.

There has been an effort to prevent never events from occurring. While all facilities have a process of ensuring that the correct patient is scheduled to have the correct surgery on the correct body part, it has become clear that the adherence to the protocol varied across the different specialties and hospitals. Even so, never events can still occur even if there is a strong adherence to the protocol.

Patients who are preparing to undergo a surgery or other procedure expect their health care professionals to provide a certain level of dependable care. If the surgeon or other doctors fail to follow proper protocols, however, a wrong-site or wrong-procedure surgery could occur. If a patient experiences complications from a never event, they may file a lawsuit against the hospital and surgeon involved in the surgery. In some cases, the patient could seek compensation for additional medical costs and pain and suffering.

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