"Never events" highlight need for increased safety measures in hospitals
According to a recent Johns Hopkins study, 80,000 egregious surgical errors occurred between 1990 and 2010. Nearly 25 percent of these incidents involved performing an operation on the wrong site while 25 percent involved performing the wrong operation entirely. Alarmingly, almost 50 percent of the surgical errors involved leaving surgical tools inside the patient's body, posing a substantial risk for a systemic and potentially deadly infection.
While it is likely impossible to completely remove the threat of hospital-borne infection, it's argued that leaving objects inside patients, performing the wrong operation or operating on the wrong person are completely avoidable and should never happen, which is why these egregious errors have been dubbed "never events." Despite the fact that simple and relatively inexpensive measures can prevent them entirely, surgical errors continue to occur, resulting in serious injury for patients across the United States.
Boy received brain surgery on wrong part of brain
One such event happened at the Arkansas Children's Hospital when a 15-year-old boy received major brain surgery to remove a lesion in the right temporal lobe that was causing seizures. Surgeons cut open a section of the boy's left temporal lobe before realizing their mistake. They stitched him up and removed the right side lesion, but the surgical error left the patient psychotic and permanently brain damaged, according to Kaiser Health News.
After surgery the parents of the patient were not informed about any complications related to the brain surgery. Behavioral changes and the onset of psychosis became apparent months after the surgery, and the boy had to be placed under the care of an assisted living facility. When his parents learned of the error more than a year after the surgery, they filed a claim against the hospital. In 2012, a jury awarded them an eight-figure settlement in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
According to a report written on the incident from the Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter, the incident was due to the negligence of a circulating nurse. It was her responsibility during the "time-out" before the procedure occurred to make sure that the instruments were on the correct side of the body and that everyone was aware of the correct surgical site. The fact that the egregious mistake happened suggested that she did not properly perform the safety task. Moreover, what made this never event worse was that it was not reported to anyone immediately after it occurred.
You can help to prevent medical malpractice by researching the accident rate of hospitals at which you or loved ones may potentially have surgery performed and ensure that adequate safety measures are in place. Most importantly, contact a skilled medical malpractice lawyer if you believe you or a loved one has suffered a medical mistake, so the potential injury does not go unnoticed and the right to compensation is retained.