“Never” surgery mistakes still happening to patients

“Never say never” is a phrase that should often apply when striving for a goal in life, but there are places you never want to hear about a “never” event.

Like in an operating room. A “never” event is a mistake that happens during a surgical procedure that should “never” happen.

Researchers at John Hopkins University estimated that nearly 10,000 “never events” have taken place in the past 20 years.  In these cases, ABC News reports that a foreign object was left in a patient, the wrong surgery was performed, or the surgery was performed on the wrong patient or wrong part of the body.

The study takes in data of medical malpractice claims from the National Practitioner Data Bank. These events were estimated to have cost healthcare industry $1.3 billion in malpractice over that time.

During 9,744 malpractice lawsuits involving “never” events, the study found that 80,000 major surgical errors had occurred between 1990 and 2010, according to Live Science. About seven percent of them died, while about one third received permanent injuries.

Study co-author Dr. Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins Medical Center says the whole surgical team has to work together to protect patients, and nurses have to feel comfortable standing up to doctors when they see a mistake may be coming.

Makary says the study numbers are likely to be low because many patients never file claims after such mistakes. He said many items left behind after surgeries are only found when a patient experiences complications after surgery, according to Fox News.

He says such surgical mistakes are “totally preventable.” Makary said to The Atlantic, “I think if all of that information is public, patients will not walk into a hospital blind. They’ll know about the quality of care in their hospital, and the hospital will be accountable.”



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