‘Never events’ still injuring U.S. medical patients

Last month, we had mentioned in a post on our Chicago medical malpractice law blog that researchers estimate that as many as 4,000 “never events” are made every year while operating on patients in Illinois and throughout the country. Surgical never events include operating on the wrong patient, the wrong side of the body, or leaving a sponge inside of a patient’s body after performing a surgical operation. Despite being able to prevent these mistakes from occurring, medical negligence continues to contribute to these egregious surgical errors.

For example, a lawsuit was filed last month against a neurosurgeon and medical facility in Missouri after a patient was harmed by a surgical never event. According to the lawsuit, the patient suffered disabling injuries after her doctor performed brain surgery on the wrong side of her brain. After it was discovered that the doctor had performed surgery on the wrong side of the patient’s skull and brain, doctors had to perform the correct operation. Instead of undergoing one operation the patient had to endure two painful operations.

You may be wondering how the doctor could have mistakenly operated on the wrong side of the patient’s brain, especially since doctors and hospitals can take numerous steps to prevent this type of never event from occurring.

The patient’s lawsuit states that negligence and carelessness were the only reasons why the wrong-site surgery happened. And because negligence contributed to the error and the patient’s injuries, the patient should be able to recover compensation for the mistake. According to the lawsuit, the patient was supposed to have surgery performed on the left side of her brain. However, the doctor performed the operation on the right side of the patient’s brain. The woman’s surgery was then performed correctly six days after the mistake had been made.

The lawsuit states that the wrong-site surgery has caused the patient to suffer disabling injuries that could have been avoided. When the patient speaks now, it is difficult for her loved ones to understand what she is saying. The harmed patient is only 53 years old.

Source: St. Louis Business Journal, “SSM named in brain surgery malpractice suit,” April 30, 2013

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‘Never events’ still injuring U.S. medical patients