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What are surgical never events?

There are some things that should never happen to you during surgery in a North Carolina hospital, and these occurrences are termed “never events.” When these types of medical errors happen, they can have devastating consequences for you and your family.

According to the Patient Safety Network, surgical never events include the performance of the wrong surgery as well as surgery performed on the wrong patient or body part. The postoperative retention of a foreign object, such as a surgical implement, in the patient also qualifies as a never event. These medical errors are generally preventable; however, the consequences to you as the patient are clearly evident and severe, generally leading to substantial disability or fatality. Indeed, a large majority of the never events reported to the Joint Commission resulted in the patient’s death.  

The good news is that these events occur rarely if at all; your local hospital probably has a wrong-site surgery case once every five or 10 years at most, and wrong-site surgeries are the never events most commonly reported. Nevertheless, research has indicated that nationwide, 4,000 or more never events happen in the surgical setting every year.

Today, hospitals around the country are facing increased pressure to report and eliminate never events for several reasons: these events are preventable, have dire implications for you as the patient and often point to a larger problem in the facility’s safety standards. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services now denies recompense for any costs arising from wrong-site surgeries and additional costs related to a wide variety of preventable errors. Private insurers and state agencies have begun to follow CMS’s lead.

This information is provided for informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice.

 

 

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