What are the 3 main surgical “never events” that endanger patients?

On Behalf of | Mar 9, 2022 | Medical Malpractice |

The average person who needs to undergo surgery will be nervous before the procedure. While the operation may be commonplace, there is always a possibility that something could go wrong. Even those who trust their doctors worry that they could become the victim of a medical mistake.

There are so many opportunities for things to go wrong during a surgery, but many of the small issues that arise have no major medical impact. The most severe medical mistakes will typically affect someone’s prognosis. Surgical “never events” have a strong correlation with lasting injury and death.

These are surgical mistakes so egregious that they should never happen. What are the three main kinds of surgical never mistakes that occur in modern America?

Performing the wrong procedure on a patient

Sometimes, a surgeon with multiple operations scheduled one day might perform the wrong procedure on one patient. The results of such a mistake can be catastrophic, ranging from the removal of healthy organs to the implantation of a completely unnecessary medical device.

Patients that undergo the wrong procedure may have adverse reactions to the procedure the doctor performs and may still need to undergo the surgery they were supposed to receive.

Performing surgery on the wrong body part

A surgeon tasked with removing an unhealthy kidney could accidentally remove the healthy one instead. They could perform a carpal tunnel procedure on the wrong arm, leaving someone with ongoing symptoms.

Performing a procedure on the wrong body part can have the same devastating consequences as performing the wrong procedure entirely. It often means that the patient suffers immediate harm and will need to undergo a corrective procedure later.

Leaving behind foreign objects in a patient’s body

The idea is that a surgeon could forget a pair of forceps or a big clump of sterile gauze inside a person’s incision seems ludicrous. Most hospitals require that surgeons account for every individual supply in their paperwork to reduce the risk of these mistakes, but they still occur.

If the object left behind is rigid or sharp, it can cause tissue damage to the surrounding body parts. Even gauze or cotton can lead to severe infections. Corrective procedures are almost always necessary when a surgeon leaves something behind in a patient.

These never events cause real harm and delay the care that a patient needed in the first place. Those stuck in the hospital recovering from a major medical oversight and those grieving a family member lost during a routine operation may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. Documenting the effects of a surgical error can help those affected by medical mistakes seek justice.