Doctors and surgeons owe a duty of care to patients. This involves providing
safe, effective, and accurate medical procedures to result in an improved
quality of life and wellbeing. However, surgeons sometimes breach that
duty of care by acting recklessly or negligently, resulting in serious
and sometimes even fatal harm. Surgical never events is a term coined
by Ken Kizer of the National Quality Forum (NQF). It refers to surgical
mistakes that should never have happened.
There are 3 main types of surgical never events. These include:
- Operating on the wrong site (such as removing the wrong body part)
- Operating on the wrong patient
- Operating with the wrong procedure
Leaving swabs or medical instruments inside the patient’s body and
implanting the wrong device or prosthesis also count as surgical never
events. These mistakes, while rare, often have devastating consequences.
In fact, it is estimated that about 71% are fatal. For a typical hospital,
a surgical never event may occur once every 5 to 10 years, according to
a 2006 study. They are entirely preventable, and healthcare organizations
and state legislators are taking action to help overcome this problem.
Causes of Surgical Never Events
Physician negligence and carelessness contributes to surgical never events.
However, a main cause that studies found was miscommunication between
the participants in the surgery. A lack of teamwork and failure to communicate
with the patients, nurses, hospital staff, and surgeons is a main contributing
factor of these gross mistakes. Furthermore, failure to properly count
the medical instruments and swabs, as well as not getting the patient’s
consent prior to the procedure, can lead to a surgical never event.
Prevention of Surgical Never Events
Because these incidents are so severe, hospitals and medical organizations
are imposing safety procedures and protocols to try and keep them from
happening. The World Health Organization produced a safe surgical checklist
in 2008. This checklist requires surgeons to make sure every detail is
accounted for prior to a surgery, before the anesthesia is even administered
or an incision is made. By using this checklist as a tool to increase
safety, surgeons can avoid making a serious mistake regarding the patient’s care.
Furthermore, a surgical timeout can help increase communication and teamwork
with those involved in the procedure. Surgical timeouts, imposed by The
Joint Commission’s Universal Protocol, require surgeons to take
a pause before every surgical procedure to discuss the details and important
aspects with all the personnel in the operating room. This can help avoid
a serious mistake and make sure everyone is on the same page before the
surgery even begins.
Call Our Detroit Medical Malpractice Attorneys Today at (248) 793-2010
At Goodman Acker P.C. we have successfully obtained settlements for numerous
victims of medical malpractice. While preventative measures are being
taken, surgical never events are still occurring. If you or a loved one
have suffered from a surgical never event, or other injury due to the
carelessness of your healthcare provider, our firm can help. We can investigate
the incident, build your case, and represent you as you pursue the compensation
Contact us today for a free case review.