Baltimore Medical Malpractice Attorneys: Update on Never Events

In a recent blog post, I discussed never events, malpractice errors defined by the healthcare profession as events that should never have happened. Never events include wrong-site surgery, leaving surgical instrumentation in the body, medication errors and patient falls. A new report from John Hopkins Medicine sheds light on the statistical incidence of never events in the United States.

Patient safety researchers at Johns Hopkins analyzed the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), a federal reporting resource for never events. Results of their study revealed:

  • Surgeons leave a surgical implement inside a human body roughly 39 times a week, and perform wrong-site surgery or the wrong procedure on approximately 20 patients per week.
  • From 1990 to 2010, more than 9,000 malpractice claims were paid at a cost of $1.3 billion. The more serious the mistake, the higher the payout.
  • Approximately 60 percent of identified patients suffered temporary injury, while about 30 percent experienced permanent disability and more than six percent died due to preventable error.
  • Although hospitals are required to report never events, not all are reported or discovered. Researchers calculate there are more than 4,000 never events committed each year.

Interestingly, never events are more likely to occur to patients aged between 40 and 49, and are more likely to be caused by surgeons between the ages of 40 and 49.

NPDB data is not publicly available but could be used in the future to allow patients to understand the rate of errors of the facility — and the physician — involved in their healthcare. If you suspect you are a victim, contact a Baltimore medical malpractice attorney at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, P.A. immediately.