An article titled “To Err Is Human” published in 1999 detailed errors by doctors during surgery and triggered many reforms in the health care field. However, despite reforms of oversights, approximately 4,000 “never events” continue to occur in U.S. hospitals throughout the nation each year, including Colorado.
“Never events” are major surgical errors. They include leaving surgical items in patients such as sponges, operating on the incorrect site or performing surgery on the incorrect patient. While these events are rare, they can cause permanent damage to patients, and the cost of settlements is a huge financial burden. Some experts suggest that if protocols and checklists are followed in the operating room, the rate of “never events” could be reduced to nearly zero.
The Joint Commission’s Center for Transforming Healthcare started a project in 2010 aimed at providing tools to help prevent surgeries performed on the wrong side of a patient’s body at eight pilot hospitals. Once these hospitals succeeded in reducing their rate of cases that may have resulted in wrong-site surgery, a prevention kit was developed and made available to other organizations.
Another project called “No Thing Left Behind” explored new procedures for keeping track of sponges. One suggestion was the use of sponges with bar codes; this procedure was designed to lower the incidences of sponges being left inside of patients.
Surgical errors may be serious and may cause great harm. If a Colorado resident feels that a surgical incident was the result of negligence by the doctor or hospital, he or she may want to have a medical malpractice attorney review the case. An attorney might make recommendations on whether to settle the case or prepare for trial.
Source: Med Page Today, “Zero Tolerance for Medical Error? Think Again!,” David Nash, Feb. 27, 2013