VA Medical Malpractice Alert - So-Called “Never Events” Happen Quite Frequently in Hospitals | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

When it comes to surgical operations and other medical procedures, there are some actions and lapses in judgment deemed wholly unacceptable. These are called “never events”. In fact, “never events” are defined as “inexcusable actions in a health care setting, the kind of mistake that should never happen.”

Despite the meaning, never events happen quite frequently. As many as 80 patients, each and every week, in the U.S. suffer serious, life-altering injuries as a result of never events.

What exactly are “never events”? They include surgical instruments – like sponges, towels, scalpels, etc. – unintentionally left inside a patient’s body, a wrong procedure is performed, the wrong body part is operated on, and surgery is done on the wrong patient altogether, according to

Take a look at this video which talks about the serious health risks that occur if a sponge is left inside a patient:

These events can have horrific consequences. In fact, 6.6 percent of patients experiencing a never event subsequently died, one third of victims suffered a permanent injury and 59 percent suffered a temporary injury, according to the Washington Post.

To their credit, some surgeons understand just how devastating these events can be and are advocating for steps to be taken to eradicate never events. “It’s unacceptable,” said Dr. Dagi, a neurosurgeon. “It’s got to be done right everywhere. Patients have a right to it, and it’s our responsibility to see that that right is protected,” according to the article.

Some states have laws requiring a hospital to report a never event. Unfortunately, this is not a uniform requirement so, in some states, we have no idea how frequently these terrible events occur. Another problem is that most of the data reported is based upon officially filed medical malpractice claims. This means the data is missing never events that occurred, but may not have actually led to litigation.

This is an important fact to consider for a victim of a never event medical negligence injury, or family member, contemplating reaching out to a Virginia medical malpractice lawyer. Not only will a claim possibly result in restitution for your lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering, but it will also be incorporated in the data to help put more a spotlight on this important public health and safety issue.  

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