If you had no idea what “never events” were in the medical field, you could surmise from the words that they rarely, if ever happen. But this assumption would be wrong. Never events, those tragic things that should never happen, happen at least 4,000 times each year, according to a medical malpractice study from Johns Hopkins.
The study looked at medical errors known as never events, trying to get an accurate picture on just how common these things are. What are never events? They are the mistakes that doctors should never make, the ones that you would think common sense would prevent.
What is A Never Event?
Never events include things like leaving an object inside someone during surgery, operating on the wrong body part, and performing the wrong procedure on a patient. In this country, the researchers say, these events happen again and again at hospitals throughout the year.
It is estimated that 80,000 never events occurred between 1990 and 2010. An object is left behind in a patient an average of 39 times each week; a doctor operates on the wrong body part 20 times each week; and the wrong procedure is done about 20 times a week.
“There are mistakes in health care that are not preventable. Infection rates will likely never get down to zero even if everyone does everything right, for example,” explains lead researcher Marty Makary, M.D., M.P.H., with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “But 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.”
The researchers used data from a federal database of medical malpractice claims to arrive at their findings. This database, known as the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), includes those cases resulting in judgments and out-of-court settlements. In nearly 10,000 documented malpractice suits resulting in a payment from 1990 to 2010, they found death occurred in 6.6 percent of cases, permanent injury occurred in 32.9 percent, and temporary injury occurred in 59.2 percent.
The researchers offer several possible solutions for reducing the occurrence of these events, including public reporting. When hospitals are forced to share their mistakes with the general public, they become more careful, and the information could also help patients make informed medical decisions when choosing a hospital.
Contact Us if You Suffered a Never Event
If you were the victim of a never event or if your doctor missed a cancer diagnosis, the Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyers of Baker & Gilchrist may be able to help. Call us today to discuss your case at 877-628-3976.