Surgical errors: ‘Never events’ continue to dog operating rooms

When North Carolina residents are preparing for surgery, they usually take it very seriously. As such, they often make sure they have made preparations for the day of surgery and the subsequent recovery. Namely, they may ensure they have someone to take them home from the medical center and pick up prescription medications.

Although patients may follow well-thought-out steps to bounce back from an operation, their doctors may not take the same precautions. According to a recently released study, there have been nearly 10,000 recorded incidences of “never events” over the last 20 years. These are medical errors that are entirely preventable, but still occur at an alarming rate.

Shockingly, this figure may not actually represent the full extent of “never events.” In a number of cases, patients don’t report being the victim of such careless mistakes. The numbers included in the study are based on reported cases and medical malpractice claims filed by patients.

Oftentimes, these types of doctor errors include leaving a surgical tool in a patient or performing the wrong procedure entirely. By taking a step back and taking very basic precautions these errors can be entirely avoided. It takes the conscious effort of everyone in the operating room — not just the surgeons — to make sure that patients receive the high-quality care they expect.

Finding out that a completely preventable error was made during a medical procedure is likely a frustrating and confusing revelation. The important thing to remember is that patients affected by surgical errors have legal rights and may be able to pursue a civil claim. By going through this process, patients can find ways to mitigate the effects of the error and become whole again.

Source: ABC News, “Surgeons Still Make Preventable Mistakes,” Dr. Lauren Browne, Dec. 20, 2012

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