December 29, 2012

“Never Events” Aren’t All That Rare

by Levin & Perconti

Malpractice occurs when a medical professional violates a standard of care. In most cases defining that standard and comparing it against the action of the defendant represents the most contested aspects of the case. But there are some circumstances when there is truly no dispute that the standards were violated. In the medical community these errors are often referred to as “never events.” They represent situations that are so egregious there is simply no excuse for their ever occurring.

However, new research suggests that far from being incredibly rare occurrences, many of these never events occur dozens of times a week and thousands of times a year.

New Report on Frequency of Basic Medical Errors
Johns Hopkins researchers recently released a report that was published in the online journal Surgery on the frequency of these unacceptable medical errors. The results are shocking. They found that things like wrong-site surgeries and leaving objects in patient bodies occur all across the country many times every week.

Specifically the patient safety advocates found that roughly every week about 40 objects (like surgical towels) are left inside patients after operations. About 20 times a week a procedure is performed on the wrong part of the body and about the same number of times doctors perform the wrong procedure on a patient. All told this amounts of a significant number of patients who are forced to deal with the consequences of the fundamental error.

One professional working on the project explained, “The events we've estimated are totally preventable. This study highlights that we are nowhere near where we should be and there's a lot of work to be done."

How did the researcher come up with these figures?

The press release announcing the study explained that the finding were made after examining decades of medical malpractice lawsuit data. But the researchers admit that their data may actually be low. That is because even though medical professionals are required by law to report these mistakes, it is unlikely for the reporting to be entirely complete. It doesn’t take much imagination to consider that some professional might seek to sweep the error under the rug if it is in any way possible.

Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you or a loved one ever falls victim of these “never events”-- a wrong-site surgery, object left in the body, or others--it is imperative to seek out legal counsel to protect your rights. It goes without saying that medical professionals must be held accountable for these errors and provide redress for the losses. Also, on many occasions, after patients come forward and press for their rights, changes are instituted at the facility involved which often ensure future errors are avoided.

The Chicago malpractice attorneys at our firm are proud of our work helping community members following these and many other forms of malpractice. We remind all residents that there are specific timing requirements with these cases, and so it is crucial to act promptly to secure your rights.

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