Never Say Never – So-Called Surgical “Never Events” Occur with Disturbing Frequency | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Virginia Medical Malpractice Lawyer

We all make mistakes in life. Doctors and surgeons are no different. However, there are some mistakes that should never happen. In the medical profession, these mistakes are called “never events.” The definition of a never event is an “inexcusable action in a health care setting, the kind of mistake that should never happen.” Unfortunately, many so-called never events occur on a daily basis in hospitals across the country. In fact, about 80 patients suffer life-altering injuries or lose their lives, due to never events every week.

What “events” are we referring to? Below is a list of so-called never events.

  • The surgeon leaves a sponge inside a patient.
  • The surgeon leaves a surgical tool like tongs inside a patient.
  • The surgeon leaves a towel inside a patient.
  • Operation on the wrong body part
  • Operation on the wrong patient
  • The patient suffers an intravascular air embolism while being cared for in a healthcare facility.

Fighting for Injured Clients

Our medical malpractice injury law firm has experience representing clients who have suffered “never event” injuries. For example, we represented a client who was admitted to the hospital for a hysterectomy, but the surgeons left a surgical sponge inside her body (which was not discovered for a full six months). Additional procedures were required to remove the sponge, but it was later discovered that the sponge created a fistula in our client’s bowel which required a subsequent bowel resection surgery. We were able to secure a $425,000.00 settlement for our client.

In another case, we represented a client who underwent gallbladder removal surgery. During the procedure, the surgeon used a number of sponges to control bleeding.  At the end of the surgery, the surgeon was supposed to remove all the sponges and the operating room nurses counted them to ensure they were removed. That did not happen. Approximately four months later, our client developed abdominal symptoms and was taken back to the hospital.  It was determined that a sponge was left in his abdomen at the conclusion of his gallbladder surgery.  To remove it, he underwent an additional, elaborate, and serious surgery which required extensive repairs to his bowel. It took him approximately eight months to recover, and he incurred approximately $50,000 in medical expenses. Our medical malpractice law firm secured a $325,000.00 settlement for our client.

Perforated/Nicked Bowels

There are other surgical errors and medical mistakes that don’t fall under the category of “never event” but are still awful mistakes that can cause permanent, disabling injuries to patients. These mistakes include perforated/nicked bowels and cut/severed ureters. A severed bowel or ureter can lead to horrific side effects and, if not treated quickly, can develop into a deadly condition called sepsis.

Symptoms of a nicked bowel during or after a hysterectomy may include:

  • Abdominal pain: Sharp or severe pain in the abdominal area is a common symptom of a bowel injury.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea and vomiting may occur due to the leakage of digestive fluids into the abdominal cavity.
  • Fever and chills: An infection can develop if the bowel is injured, leading to fever and chills.
  • Bloating and gas: Accumulation of gas and fluids in the abdominal cavity can cause bloating and discomfort.
  • Difficulty passing gas or stool: Bowel function may be impaired, leading to constipation or difficulty passing gas.
  • Increased heart rate: An elevated heart rate can be a sign of infection or inflammation.

Treatment for a nicked bowel during a hysterectomy typically involves immediate surgical repair of the injury. The surgeon will carefully suture the damaged bowel to prevent further leakage and infection. In some cases, a temporary colostomy or ileostomy may be necessary to divert fecal matter away from the injured bowel segment to allow it to heal.

Are You a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you suffered a serious injury, or lost a loved one, as a result of a cut bowel or ureter, or were the victim of a “never event” take a moment to download and read our in-depth legal guide, which was written by an experienced Virginia medical malpractice injury attorney.

For more detailed information, contact our office right away to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation with one of our dedicated Virginia medical malpractice attorneys.

At Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp, we have been advocating for injured victims for more than three decades and will work diligently to get you and your family the financial compensation you deserve for the injuries and losses you have suffered. Call our office today to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation and find out how our legal team can help.