Surgical Errors and Medical Malpractice


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Everyone makes mistakes, even doctors, and under the law, just because a doctor made a mistake does not mean the doctor committed medical negligence. In other words, not every mistake is actionable. That’s the way it should be. However, there are some medical mistakes that just shouldn’t happen. They actually have a name, “never” events.

“Never” events include the following kinds of surgical mistakes:

  • operating on the wrong body part,
  • performing the wrong procedure,
  • operating on the wrong patient,
  • leaving a surgical tool in a patient, and
  • leaving surgical material, such as a sponge or tie, in a patient.

These kinds of mistakes are shocking, so shocking that many people believe they are rare. But, they aren’t rare. In fact, researchers at Johns Hopkins estimate that “never” events occur roughly 4000 times per year. That’s over 10 times a day. Read more about the prevalence of never events.

These are the kinds of events that simply should not occur. Patients who undergo surgery trust their doctors and hospitals that these kinds of events won’t occur. It’s up to hospitals to have proper procedures in place to ensure they don’t; however, many hospitals have outdated procedures or don’t have any procedures at all.

“Never” events often result in serious injury to the patient such as additional, invasive treatment or worse, death. Medical negligence laws allow the patient or his or her surviving family members to recover in tort and receive fair financial compensation for medical negligence.

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