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  • Why are so Many “Never Events” Happening?

    never events from medical negligenceYou may not have heard of a “never event” before and chances are, you do not want to. The National Institute of Health or NIH defines “never events” as a subset of patient safety incidents that are both preventable and so serious that they should never occur. Events like these include performing an operation on the wrong patient or even on the wrong side of a patient’s body. A recent Philadelphia Inquirer investigation uncovered some very disturbing information: medical providers have left surgical objects, which are events so avoidable that they should never happen, in more than 200 Philadelphia area patients in just a six-year span.

    Current estimates suggest that a never event like leaving an object inside of a patient occurs in about one out of every 5,500 procedures that take place across the nation. The Inquirer’s investigators examined information which revealed that between 2016 and 2022, Philly area healthcare providers left objects like surgical gauze, broken drill tips, sponges, the tips of suture needles, catheter fragments, screws, guide wires, and even more inside patients’ bodies. Here are just a few chilling examples of the victim’s stories from the Inquirer:

    • The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) settled a lawsuit with the family of a girl who was just 17 when a plastic surgeon broke a metal bracket from her braces during an invasive procedure. The metal bracket eventually migrated from the girl’s jaw, embedding itself in the soft tissue of her neck where it subsequently caused a severe infection
    • Six months after having a seemingly simple outpatient procedure just 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia, a 29-year-old professional motorcross racer began to cough constantly (sometimes with the presence of bloody phlegm). He also found himself struggling to breathe while performing routine tasks. It turned out that the man had six to eight feet of surgical gauze inside his chest cavity. The pieces of gauze had become infected and were also compressing his windpipe
    • A 28-year-old woman from Pottstown developed such a serious infection after her surgeon left a surgical sponge inside her that she had to have parts of her colon and her appendix removed. The event occurred at a Chester County hospital that is owned by Penn Medicine

    The Inquirer’s investigators found this information by combing through public inspection reports. They also found that although the “never events” happened at three dozen different Philadelphia and Philadelphia area hospitals, the Pennsylvania Department of Health did not cite a single facility. Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Lankenau Medical Center, Abington Hospital and Temple University Hospital were all on the Inquirer’s list of facilities where a patient either did not have an object in their body when they were first admitted or where a patient already had an object in their body upon admittance. Patients admitted with an object already inside their body could very well have experienced the never event at yet another local provider.

    The Inquirer’s analysis also found other critical information regarding patient safety, including:

    • Patients affected by these never events ranged from 9 months to 84 years of age
    • In 65 of the 203 cases (32%), the accident occurred during the same hospital stay. This means that it “likely” happened at the same facility
    • Two of the patients died during their hospital stays. Although there is no proof that leaving surgical objects inside the patients was a direct cause of their deaths, we do know that the objects were left inside their bodies at the same facilities that they passed away during the same hospital stay
    • Medical mistakes that involve “unintended retained foreign objects” are one of the top five causes of severe harm and death in patients
    • Patients who experience this may have to undergo additional operations or could develop a serious infection, sustain permanent organ damage or have loss of bodily function(s)

    Are You a Victim of a “Never Event” ?

    Some medical mistakes are unavoidable – but others, like when a surgeon or other type of medical provider leaves a surgical object inside of a person’s body – are not. Hospitals are supposed to have multi-layered protocols in place to safeguard against situations just like these. Just one example of an effective control measure is how a nurse typically counts each surgical sponge before the start of a procedure and again before the surgeon closes the patient’s incision. Despite having protocols to uphold, providers still make mistakes that deviate from their accepted and general standard of care. When this happens and it causes injury or death to a patient, it may be time to consider filing a medical malpractice claim.

    Providers like doctors, nurses, hospitals, surgical centers, aides, technicians, dentists, and other healthcare workers are all potentially liable for medical malpractice. Though the law varies state by state, there are strict  statutes of limitation that may impact your claim.  Having an experienced attorney on your side gives you the best chance of recovering damages for your or your loved one’s injuries. If you would like to learn more about filing a medical malpractice claim, someone at our firm can help. Contact a representative online now to learn more.

    Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP, Representing Injured Victims Since 1947

    If you have questions about filing a claim for injuries you sustained, contact the Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys at Galfand Berger LLP today. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.

    1-800-222-USWA (8792)