According to a report made by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, surgical “never events” are happening at least 4,000 times a year.
Researchers are estimating that a surgeon in the United States is leaving a foreign object, such as a sponge, inside the patient’s body after an operation 39 times a week, operates on the wrong side of the body 20 times a week and performs the wrong procedure on a patient 20 times a week.
The study estimates that 80,000 of these “never events,” which are occurrences that should never happen during surgery, took place in American hospitals during 1990-2010, and these estimates are thought to be on the low side.
The findings of the report come from claims made by past patients through the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), which houses medical malpractice claims. Retained foreign-body, wrong procedure, wrong site and wrong patient surgeries were looked at, which equaled out to 59 percent of temporary injury, 32 percent permanent injury and 6 percent death caused by never events.
Estimates relating to foreign objects being left behind in a patient’s body are considered to be low, because not all items left behind are discovered until a patient begins experiencing complications.
Better systems need to be developed to ensure that these surgical errors cease, as well as better reporting systems to speed up safety efforts.
Many hospitals have taken better precautions, however. Some healthcare workers are using surgical checklists, while others are beginning to use bar codes on instruments and materials to enable precise counts and prevent human error.
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At Snyder & Wenner, we strive to keep the community safe when hospital care is involved. We have become patient safety advocates by representing patients who have been harmed from hospital error. If you know someone who has been seriously injured from a hospital error, please contact us.
Snyder and Wenner, P.C.
2200 E. Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85016