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“Never Events” in Medical Malpractice


Women have gone in for hysterectomies and come out with holes in the bladder. Men have gone in for cyst removal and come out with a missing testicle. Patients of all ages are coming out of surgery with instruments like scalpels and needles still inside of them. Events like these are the scourge of the healthcare industry, and they are occurring at an alarming rate.

Patients across the United States are being blighted by these things called “never events” at a rate of 4,000 per year, according to some studies. Even one per year, or one ever, would be unacceptable given that the term coined to describe such occurrences is never events – they should never happen.

Never events include things like:

  • Operating on the wrong body part
  • Operating on the wrong patient
  • Leaving a foreign object (i.e. scalpel, sponge) in the body
  • Performing the wrong procedure on the a patient
  • Prescribing contaminated medication or drugs to a patient
  • Using medical devices for non-intended functions

If the thought of trained medical professionals making such egregious errors wasn’t bad enough, consider this. Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine found that:

  • Surgeons operated on the wrong body part 20 times a week
  • Surgeons performed the wrong procedure 20 times a week
  • Surgeons left foreign objects in the body at least 39 times a week

The ramifications of never events are debilitating at best and fatal at worst. The Joint Commission estimates that 71% of never events result in patient death, the rest often necessitating revision surgeries or causing permanent injury.

No patient should ever have to worry that they’ll be harmed by their doctor’s mistake, but it happens to 4,000 patients every year. Never events are inexcusable, and the doctors and healthcare professionals responsible for them should be held accountable.

Taking legal action can never completely remove the pain and turmoil caused by a never event, but it is an important step to securing the justice that injured patients deserve. Holding doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare professionals responsible for their error through a medical malpractice lawsuit not only pursues much needed financial compensation for the victim, but also works to ensure that the same tragic events never beset another patient. To learn more, contact the New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys at Levinson Axelrod, P.A.

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