Surgical "never events" encompass incorrectly operating on the wrong patient, conducting the wrong procedure on the correct patient, performing wrong-site surgery, improper organ transplant or leaving surgical equipment inside the patient such as operating tools or sponges, and they cost healthcare facilities billions of dollars in the form of surgery malpractice claims. These surgical errors or mistakes, performed by careless surgeons or negligent operating staff and their improper use of surgical equipment, may result in serious injury or even death.
Research results from 1990 to 2010 estimated that malpractice costs paid out to patients reached $1.3 billion; the research results were provided by the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), a federal reserve of medical malpractice claims. An estimated 96 percent of claims were settled and never went to court, but findings show higher compensation was paid to patients who proceeded to trial, sometimes tripling the amount of payment with court settlements. Over 4,000 yearly claims were estimated in the research time frame for surgical "never event" mishaps.
Permanent injuries sustained by patients resulted in over 32 percent of cases, temporary injuries resulted in over 59 percent of cases and injuries resulting in a patient's death were over 6 percent; these deaths occurred more often in patients 60 years of age or older. Only 10 percent of physicians who committed these infractions were corrected by the state licensing committee, and 62 percent of physicians who committed these infractions had previously committed similar surgery mistakes.
A medical malpractice attorney can assist victims who have sustained injuries due to negligent surgeons or negligent operating staff. He or she may be able to file a medical malpractice suit on behalf of the victim to obtain compensation that the victim is entitled to receive as all of these errors are fully preventable.
Source: Medpage Today, "Billions Paid Out for Surgical Errors," Cole Petrochko, Dec. 26, 2012