What are the most common surgical “never events?”

Human mistakes occur in every line of work, including the medical profession. Nurses, pharmacists and doctors alike who have spent years in school and caring for patients can still make mistakes, forget something or suffer their own medical issue that affects the care that they provide.

Often, issues with medical malpractice involve not just minor mistakes but massive, preventable errors. These errors are known as “never events” in the medical field. They should never occur in a facility with the right safety protocols in place. While mistakes are sometimes unavoidable in chaotic environments, they are something that doctors and other medical professionals can control for in most surgical settings.

What are the most common never events that occur during modern surgeries?

Wrong site or wrong procedure mistakes

If you’ve ever wondered why your body is marked before going under anesthesia or why they make you wear a medical bracelet with a barcode on it, it is to help ensure that the surgeon doesn’t make a mistake.

Performing the wrong procedure on a patient or performing the right procedure on the wrong side of the body are devastating mistakes that occur more frequently than people realize.

Leaving surgical tools behind

Obviously, metal clamps and scalpels could do a lot of damage to someone’s body if left behind when a doctor closes up an incision. Even gauze and cotton intended to absorb blood could cause infections and require a corrective surgery.

Proper diligence by a surgeon and their support staff would prevent these mistakes from occurring, which is why these never events are often actionable forms of medical malpractice. Knowing when a medical mistake changes from a slip of the hand to an actionable form of medical malpractice can help you better advocate for yourself as a patient and know when to seek legal guidance.

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