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Arthur Elk: ‘Never events’ should never happen

By Arthur Elk

In the new Will Smith movie “After Earth,” we see a picture of what the Earth might look like 1,000 years in the future.

While it’s fun to imagine what the future might be like, at Elk & Elk, we are here right now to help our clients get their lives back on track after serious medical malpractice mistakes occur.

A recent study by John Hopkins estimated that 4,044 surgical “never events” occur each year.  “Never events,” named because they should never happen, include: wrong-site, wrong-patient, or wrong-procedure surgeries, as well as leaving objects inside a patient.

Using the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), researchers found that 39 times a week a foreign object, like a sponge or towel, is left in a patient; 20 times a week a surgeon operates on the wrong area of a patient’s body; and 20 times a week surgeons perform the wrong surgical procedure on their patients.

The Johns Hopkins study in the online journal Surgery looked at twenty years of data and found 80,000 occurrences of never events, for which 9,744 medical malpractice claims were filed, resulting in $1.3 billion in judgments and settlements. Of those cases, 6.6 percent of the patients died, 32.9 percent suffered permanent injury, and 59.2 percent suffered temporary injury.

Although there are already many safeguards in place intended to keep never events from occurring, the statistics show that more must still be done. There is no excuse for a doctor operating on the wrong limb, on the wrong patient or performing the wrong procedure. These events can cause serious, sometimes fatal, consequences to the innocent victims.

We may not know what the Earth will look like 1,000 years from now, but we definitely know how serious never events are. If you believe you or a loved  one are the victim of medical malpractice, call 1-800-ELK-OHIO today or fill out our online consultation form and find out how we can help you.