Modern health care has become very corporate and technologically advanced. Surgeons typically operate at a hospital owned by a business. They are subject to multiple layers of oversight from their employers, ranging from paperwork or charting requirements to support staff obligations during procedures. The goal of all of those rules is to prevent surgical mistakes from happening.
Unfortunately, even with years of education and expensive infrastructure supporting them, surgeons can and do still make major mistakes during procedures. There are certain kinds of surgical mistakes that should never happen, which is why professionals call them never events.
Three kinds of never events still occur multiple times a week in the United States even with numerous layers of safeguarding in place. When does a surgeon commit an error that constitutes a never event?
They leave tools or items behind
Far from being a punchline for a sitcom, foreign objects left behind in a patient can be a life-threatening medical mistake. Rigid items like forceps and scalpels can cause massive damage to the surrounding tissue. Even soft items, like gauze or cotton, could lead to inflammation and irritation, as well as severe infections. Items left behind in surgery often require revision procedures and may drastically increase someone’s recovery time.
The perform wrong-site or wrong-side procedures
Whether a doctor is about to perform a lumpectomy for biopsy purposes or correct tendon damage to your forearm, it is crucial that they operate on the correct point on your body. However, it remains somewhat common for surgeons to perform the procedure on the wrong side of someone’s body or on the wrong body part. The consequences in such scenarios are obvious, as the procedure may have catastrophic consequences for the patient, who will still need to undergo the intended procedure later.
They make wrong-patient or wrong-procedure mistakes
Sometimes, surgeons mix up the order of the surgeries they will perform during the day. They may perform the wrong procedure on a patient. Such mix-ups can cause fatal consequences or life-altering medical issues for the patient affected.
Surgeons and the medical companies that employ them should have numerous steps in place to prevent such never events from affecting patients. Filing a medical malpractice claim is an appropriate and reasonable response to experiencing a major surgical error like a never event.