According to the National Quality Forum, a “never event” is a medical mistake that is easily preventable, clearly identifiable, poses serious consequences for the patient, and indicates major issues regarding safety at the medical facility the event occurs at.
Examples of never events include surgery on the wrong body part, major medication errors, blood transfusions using the incorrect blood type, and pressure sores/ulcers. According to the Institute of Medicine, there are more than 100,000 never events that occur every year, killing more people than die in car accidents. The annual costs of never events exceeds $9 billion.
One never event that occurs far too often is when a surgical sponge is left inside a patient. A recent case published in the New England Journal of Medicine detailed the experience of a 42-year-old woman who went to her doctor because symptoms of bloating, only to discover that there were two gauze sponges inside her abdomen. The woman had only had two surgeries in that area, both C-sections. Incredibly, one surgery was six years prior and the other nine years. This meant that the two sponges had been inside the woman for at least six years, possibly longer.
The sponges had fused onto the tissues of her stomach and colon. This posed a potentially fatal health risk. Fortunately, the woman survived the surgery to remove the sponges.
According to another study, conducted by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, there are almost 6,000 cases of surgical items left inside patients in this country each year. There is strong possibility that number is even higher because there is no federal law requiring any reporting of these incidents. In more than half of these incidents, the item left inside the patient is a surgical sponge.
In addition to the pain these items can cause victims, there is also a high risk of the development of an infection which can cause sepsis or death.
The majority of surgical never events occur during emergency surgeries even though there are specific procedures and protocols which should be followed during surgical procedures by all medical personnel involved. Leaving items behind in a patient is a strong indicator that these protocols were not followed and could be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Contact a North Carolina Injury Attorney Today
North Carolina injury law allows victims to pursue financial compensation for the losses they have suffered due to the actions of medical staff. Our North Carolina surgical error attorneys understand the overwhelming stress these types of mistakes can have on families and work diligently to obtain financial compensation because of the harm victims suffered when medical staff failed to provide the necessary medical treatment.
The legal team at Shapiro & Appleton has successfully represented many clients and their families who suffered serious injury or illness because of the negligence or carelessness of a doctor or other medical staff. Call 800-752-0042 for your free case evaluation and to find out how we can help.