Philadelphia Birth Injury Attorney Applauds Research On “Never Events”

January 11th, 2013 by

How does a doctor operate on the wrong patient? How does a surgical team forget to remove a sponge from a patient?  How do trained medical professionals operate on the wrong side of the body?  As a Philadelphia birth injury attorney, I see how medical mistakes can leave families with a lifetime of pain. The number of such medical mistakes,  or “never events”, are still occurring in the United States at an alarming rate.

A new study from medical researchers at Johns Hopkins University estimates at least 4,000 patients suffer from so-called “never events” or, more simply put, medical mistakes,  in US hospitals every year. What is most alarming about “never events” according to the Hopkins’ study is that these types of mistakes are completely preventable.

The study, published in the December 2012 journal, Surgery, discloses that a surgeon in the United States leaves a foreign object, such as a sponge or a towel, inside a patient’s body after an operation 39 times a week; performs the wrong procedure on a patient 20 times a week; and operates on the wrong body site 20 times a week.

The Hopkins’ study estimated that around 80,000 of these “never events” happened in procedures from 1990 through 2010 from data found in the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), a very reliable federal database of medical malpractice claims. These types of medical mistakes cannot be swept under the rug as, by law, medical centers are required to report “never events” that result in a settlement or judgment to the NPDB.

The study  also found that, surprisingly,  it’s not just a one-time “mistake”. Many doctors had these “never events” happen time and time again. An interesting piece of data from the study showed that sixty-two percent of the involved  surgeons were cited in more than one separate malpractice report, and 12.4 percent were named in separate surgical “never events.” One can only ask, why?!

As a Philadelphia birth injury attorney, I see the emotional and financial hardships a family suffers after a preventable medical mistake, or ” never event”, occurs. The researchers at Johns Hopkins noted that quite many of these “never events” are not reported and urge the public to report them. This type of research helps support the importance of full disclosure of “never events” and medical mistakes.  Disclosure of this type of information would provide families with critical information as to where to have their medical procedures done and which doctor to entrust their care to. Unfortunately, despite this well respected study, Pennsylvania law still requires all medical malpractice settlements to be confidential and kept from the public’s eye. Again, one can only ask, why?!


Birth Injury