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"Never events" put patients at risk everywhere in the U.S.

Medical malpractice is a problem in the hospitals and clinics around the United States. It can be serious enough to cause fatalities or complications that leave patients in pain and struggling with their conditions. While some errors are not intentional, the reality is that mistakes and negligence can seriously harm patients, so providers have to be held accountable.

The majority of medical malpractice cases discuss the occurrence of never events. Never events include mistakes such as:

  • Wrong-site surgeries
  • Wrong-patient surgeries
  • Unintended retention of a foreign body
  • Wrong-procedure incidents

In the majority of these cases, there is no real excuse for the mistakes that were made. Some may blame the mistakes on a lack of communication, and others may consider factors like a lack of sleep or clerical errors.

How can patients help themselves avoid never events?

Patients need to be proactive. What that means is that they should take the time to get to know the procedures they will be going through and should discuss the steps of the procedures with their medical providers. Additionally, they need to review their documents with the team to make sure their name, allergies and other information are all up to date. If there is ever a discrepancy between a person's name or allergy list, that should always be cleared up before a treatment or surgery goes ahead.

How can medical providers reduce the risk of never events?

Medical providers can take a few steps to reduce the occurrence of never events. These steps include:

  • Creating solid lines of communication
  • Checking, and double-checking, that all items used during surgeries are recollected and removed from the patient
  • Verifying patient information each time someone comes into contact with the patient
  • Double-checking charts before performing procedures
  • Discussing procedures with patients well in advance of the dates of the procedures, so they know what to expect and can correct anyone who makes simple clerical errors

Medical malpractice is serious because of the fact that it plays with the lives of patients who are at their most vulnerable. What may seem like a simple mistake, like leaving a sponge in a patient, can quickly become a life-altering experience for a patient struggling with infection or pain.

Patients who have concerns following procedures should make sure they follow up regularly and get a second opinion when needed. Patients deserve to be treated with care and respect, and they shouldn't have to worry about errors that could change their lives.

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