“Never events” in hospitals more common than thought


New York residents may be surprised to discover that surgical errors and negligence are far more common than most people believe. While many individuals assume that hospitals have practices in place to prevent medical errors, a number of life threatening mistakes are made in health care facilities across the country. One particular type of error, called a “never event,” is so-called because it should never happen for any reason. However, these events occur up to 11 times a day, according to a study from Johns Hopkins.

In addition to surgical never events, there are also a number of preventable medical errors that occur routinely, including level three and four bed sores and mistakes that lead to collapsed lungs. If you count such events that occur in hospitals and the operating room, around 200 a day happen to people on Medicare alone. Even worse, it is not uncommon for hospitals to charge patients to repair the damage they have caused.

This behavior has led insurance companies and employers to create a set of purchasing principles. These guidelines include refusing to pay for medical care related to “never events” as well as demanding an apology for the patient who was harmed. While many hospitals agreed to these protocols, hundreds of others have refused. Patient advocates are also in an ongoing battle with hospitals to make data about errors made available to the public.

People who seek medical attention should not have to worry that inattentive or negligent health care professionals will cause them harm. Someone who has been injured by a doctor may have legal recourse, and a lawyer could explain their rights and let them know what their options are.

Source: Forbes, “Bone-Chilling Mistakes Hospitals Make And Why They Don’t Want You To Know“, Leah Binder, July 15, 2013

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