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What You Need to Know About Surgical Never Events


It is estimated that more than 4,000 patients are victims of surgical errors every year in the United States. Surgeons, other physicians (e.g. anesthesiologists) and medical providers owe a duty of care to patients. This involves providing accurate, effective, and safe medical treatments. If they breach this duty of care and cause harm to patients, they may be held accountable in court.

What Are Surgical Never Events?

Surgical never events are errors that should never occur. With proper communication and preparation, doctors can easily avoid these mistakes. Victims of surgical never events may suffer painful conditions and a lower quality of life. Infections, scarring, disfigurement, nerve damage, internal bleeding, chronic pain, and death may result from surgical never events.

Common types of surgical never events include, but are not limited to:

  1. Leaving an object inside the patient
  2. Certain nerve or organ injuries occurring during surgery
  3. Administering too much or too little anesthesia
  4. Failing to monitor the patient (e.g. respirations, blood pressure)
  5. Operating on the wrong body part
  6. Performing the wrong procedure on the patient
  7. Operating on the wrong patient entirely

Preventing Surgical Never Events

The Joint Commission of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has enacted a Universal Protocol to reduce the number of surgical errors that occur in the United States. This protocol sets forth guidelines for physicians to follow when performing surgical procedures.

In order to avoid surgical never events, surgeons should:

  • Conduct a “timeout” before every surgical procedure
  • Use site marking on every patient
  • Make a surgical checklist
  • Count sponges and instruments before and after surgery

As the patient, there are steps you can take to increase your safety and avoid a surgical never event. You should communicate honestly and clearly with your doctor at all times. This can ensure you know exactly what is going on and what procedure you are having done.

Trusted Medical Malpractice Attorney in Louisville

For nearly 30 years, Brett H. Oppenheimer, PLLC has represented victims and their families against negligent individuals. Healthcare providers must uphold the safety and well-being of patients. If you or a loved one have been injured by a surgical error, or by another type of medical malpractice incident, our Louisville medical malpractice lawyer will tenaciously pursue justice on your behalf.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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