Chicago-Based Attorneys
Handling Aviation Accidents Nationwide

What is a surgical never event?

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2024 | Accidents & Incidents

Surgical procedures are perhaps the most invasive type of medical care available. A highly-trained professional intentionally cuts someone’s body to repair damage or remove something that shouldn’t be there. Surgery often requires either general or localized anesthesia to help someone manage pain, which is dangerous on its own.

All kinds of minor issues can arise during surgery, and any of the professionals attending could make mistakes that have dire consequences for the patient. Certain issues, like nicking nearby tissue with a scalpel, are unpredictable and largely unpreventable. However, there are also some mistakes that are so egregious that professionals acknowledge that they should never happen in a modern operating room. Those so-called never events can lead to tragic outcomes for patients who require surgical intervention.

What are common ever events?

Despite what the name implies, never events occur with shocking frequency. Some research estimates that dozens of never events occur every week across the United States. While the vast majority of surgeries occur without complications, sometimes those working surgical jobs feel burned out or make negligent mistakes that harm their patients.

Wrong-site and wrong-side operations are among the most common never events. They involve a surgeon performing a procedure on the wrong body parts or the wrong side of the body. In some cases, wrong-site operations can make someone ineligible for the treatment they actually need and can cause devastating damage to their bodies.

Wrong patient or wrong procedure mistakes are also common. Surgeons might mix up their schedules or the medical records for multiple patients. They may perform the wrong procedure on someone, which can affect their recovery and force them to undergo a second surgery shortly after the first procedure.

Finally, surgeons sometimes leave items behind inside patients. All of those jokes in popular media have a basis in reality. Surgeons might leave items ranging from scalpels and clamps to gauze inside a patient. Rigid items could potentially cause physical injuries to someone’s body, while soft items like gauze and cotton can cause inflammation and severe infections. Those who have retained foreign bodies after a surgery typically require immediate revision procedures.

Surgical never events can drastically increase someone’s overall medical expenses and their recovery timeline. Therefore, those mistakes could also decrease someone’s lost income. Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit could help those affected by medical negligence address the harm they have suffered.