In the field of medicine, some things are simply not supposed to happen. The mistakes which it is unreasonable for a doctor to make are called “never events.” Unfortunately, never events happen very frequently, including one recent case reported on by CNN in which a doctor took a kidney out of the wrong patient.
When a “never event” occurs, the very nature of the mistake is sufficient to show the doctor who made the error was unreasonably negligent. Victims who suffered injury due to this negligence can pursue a civil case for medical malpractice.
An Atlanta medical negligence lawyer can provide assistance to victims in understanding their legal options and maximizing their compensation when they have been harmed.
Never Events and Atlanta Medical Negligence Claims
According to CNN, “surgery performed on the wrong patient is described as a “never event” by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: an error that should never occur and indicates serious underlying safety problems.”
Despite their name, so-called never events happen in around one out of every 112,000 surgeries which is performed in the United States. This means, on average, each hospital would be the site of one “never-event” mistake every five to 10 years. Never events reflect a very small percentage of the surgical errors which are made each year, as around 200,000 people die from surgical mistakes annually. When they do happen, however, the consequences are particularly severe for patients. For example, one recent patient lost a healthy kidney after a doctor operated on the wrong patient.
The tragic situation in which the patient had his kidney removed is currently being investigated by local health authorities, as well as by the hospital where the incident took place. The hospital has indicated proper protocols were performed before the surgery took place and said it is not yet sure where the breakdown in protocol occurred which resulted in the wrong patient being operated on.
The Joint Commission, which has responsibility for accrediting U.S. hospitals, provides suggestions for how hospitals can avoid this type of error. Physicians are encouraged to mark surgical sites before beginning an operation and to have a timeout immediately prior to surgery in order to ensure the proper surgical procedure is being performed on the right patient. It is not clear if this was done in this recent case in which the patient lost the kidney.
While timeouts before surgery are helpful, unfortunately this protocol alone cannot stop the problem. Serious mistakes can still happen when patients are given the incorrect ID bracelet or if the wrong X-rays are sent up to an operating room.
It is up to doctors and hospitals to find effective ways to protect patients and prevent tragedy. When they fail, and especially when the failure involves a never event, they should be held accountable for damages which patients experience.
The Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent patients or their families after a medical mistake. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.