There are certain medical mistakes that surgeons agree should never happen, accidents that are completely preventable and totally unacceptable. When these “never events” do happen, however, hospitals are required to report them to the National Practitioner Data Bank so that the federal government can keep track of how often they are happening. It may be surprising for Cleveland patients to learn that these never events are happening approximately 4,000 times a year.
A recent report authored by Johns Hopkins University has found that there were about 80,000 never events recorded between 1990 and 2010. While this number seems shockingly high, researchers also believe that it is conservative, as not every never event is reported to the Database and never events are generally only discovered when they affect the health or well-being of a patient. Fortunately, those individuals who are the victims of never events can file for medical malpractice, obtaining compensation for their negligent medical treatment.
One of the most common of mistakes is a surgeon leaving something inside a patient’s body. From a surgical sponge to a towel to something as frightening as a medical instrument, foreign objects in the body can cause long-lasting and serious damage. Not only does the risk of infection increase, but the object can cause damage to the nerves, tissue and surrounding organs. In some cases, an individual may die from something being left in his or her body.
What is worse is that there is no reason for anything to be left inside an individual’s body. Many hospitals are now using a barcode system to scan everything used in the surgery, from sponges to surgical tools, before and after the surgery. If anything is missing, the surgeon will know not only that something was left in the body, but also what is missing. Despite the advances hospitals have made to eliminate this never event, it is believed this still happens approximately 39 times a week.