Information about Surgical Error and Never Events Lawsuits
Medical malpractices during surgeries can be seen as surgical errors if the practices fall below the healthcare standard of the state of Maryland. No patient goes into surgery with the thought of having a surgical error happen to them, regardless of the risks associated. Surgical errors may occur ranging from minor and more frequent ones—scarring, internal bleeding—to more extreme—and infrequent—cases, such as operating on the wrong body part or wrong patient.
Various factors contribute to the making of surgical errors, such as haste to perform a surgery or tiredness on the part of the medical personnel.
A study of Never events between 1990 and 2010 found that Never events brought about temporary injury in 59% of patients, permanent injury in 33% of patients, and for 7% of patients, death.
In the WHO Guidelines for Safe Surgery 2009, the World Health Organization listed the 10 aspects of a universal protocol intended to minimize surgical errors:
- Operating on the correct patient at the correct site;
- Using methods known to prevent harm when administering anaesthetics while also protecting the patient from pain;
- Recognizing and effectively preparing for life-threatening loss of respiratory ability;
- Recognizing and effectively preparing for the possibility of high blood loss;
- Avoiding inducing allergic reactions or adverse drug reactions;
- Consistently using methods designed to minimize infection risk at the surgery site;
- Ensuring instruments and sponges are not left in surgical wounds;
- Securing and accurately identifying all surgical specimens;
- Effectively communicating and exchanging critical information during the operation; and,
- Establishing routine surveillance of surgical capacity, volume and results.
Despite the above-listed protocols, the John Hopkins Patient Safety experts recorded that over 250,000 deaths per year are due to a medical error in the US.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A NEVER EVENT?
While you go into a surgery or other medical treatment with the knowledge of the risks associated with the procedure, sometimes an unforeseen—but other times, common—error may occur on the part of the medical personnel.
A Never Event, as defined by the National Quality Forum, is an error in medical care that is clearly identifiable, preventable, and serious in consequence for patients, and that indicate a real problem in the safety and credibility of a healthcare facility.
These events are errors that should never occur, but unfortunately do. In the US, they include, but are not limited to:
- Surgery performed on the wrong body part;
- Surgery performed on the wrong patient;
- Unintended retention of a foreign body in a patient after surgery;
- Artificial insemination with the wrong donor sperm or donor egg; and,
- Infant discharged to the wrong patient.
In the situation where a never event does occur, the Leapfrog Group has recommended four actions to be carried out on the part of the hospital:
- Apologize to the patient;
- Report the event;
- Perform a root cause analysis; and,
- Waive costs directly related to the event.
However, sometimes a hospital or its medical personnel may decide to disregard the above actions, or only carry them out partially. In that case, you or your loved ones are left to deal with the personal injury alone. The patient may then have to seek compensation for surgical errors that go beyond the usual risks associated with surgery.
HOW CAN I PREVENT A NEVER EVENT?
While patients must sign documents stating their awareness of the risks and complications that may arise from the surgery or other procedure being undertaken, other events that go beyond the risks and complications stated may leave you with personal injuries. As the medical personnel has the biggest role to play in ensuring these events do not occur, you or your loved ones have a part to play in protecting yourselves from these never events as well.
Some things you should do to prevent an occurrence of a never event include:
- Ensuring that previous medications and prescriptions are taken to every appointment;
- Informing medical staff about previous or present allergies;
- Confirming that you understand the doctor’s instructions by repeating them to avoid a bridge in communication; and,
- Taking a loved one or relative with you for appointments and consultations.
WHAT DO I AS A PATIENT DO WHEN A NEVER EVENT OCCURS?
The aftermaths of a surgical error are distressing. The healing process may set you or your family back financially and otherwise. In the outcome of a never event—especially one with devastating effects—we advise that you seek full compensation from the hospital or medical personnel responsible.
Maryland Health-General Code Title 19 §19-304 states that a hospital or related institution shall report any unexpected occurrence related to a patient’s medical treatment that results in a serious disability or death. The best step to take after a surgical error is to get proper medical care and then seek advice from an experienced medical attorney.
Regardless of how much time may have passed, you may still be eligible to make a claim, as most medical statutes allow the patient a certain period of time in cases where the error is not noticed until much later. If your hospital does not report your surgical error, you may consult your lawyer on the next steps to take towards getting full compensation.
SEEKING COMPENSATION FOR A SURGICAL ERROR?
Despite the alarming rate of surgical errors and medical malpractices, a surgical error or never event is not to be—and should not be—taken lightly. Aside from the mistrust in the medical personnel, the patient is potentially left with scars, a foreign body in his or her body, or with the wrong surgical operation performed. When our healthcare providers fail to live by their principle, “first, do no harm” and do indeed harm us, it is only acceptable that compensation is given.
If you or a loved one has experienced a surgical error that has resulted in a long-term injury and wish to seek compensation for this injury, you should consult with one of our widely experienced medical malpractice lawyers in order to prove that the event was truly an error that has led to your personal injuries, as well as other related complications.
Contact us today to start the process towards full compensation for you or your relatives. We offer free, no-strings attached initial consultations, so you have nothing to worry about when reaching out to us; in fact, we’d love to hear from you!