While medical professionals receive years of training, mistakes happen. If these mistakes, or “never events” occur during surgery, the victim can suffer severe or fatal harm. For this reason, New York law takes these mistakes very seriously. If you or a loved one suffered preventable harm from a never event, you may be able to file a malpractice claim. A New York surgery malpractice lawyer from Buttafuoco & Associates can help.
What are surgical never events?
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) considers the following surgical “never events”:
- A surgeon performs surgery on the wrong body part
- A surgeon performs the wrong surgery on a patient
- A surgeon performs surgery on the wrong patient
- A surgeon leaves a foreign object inside a patient
The abbreviation for the first three events on this list is WSPEs: wrong-site, wrong-procedure, wrong-patient errors. According to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, surgical never events occur over 4,000 times a year.
The study found that:
- Wrong site surgeries occur 20 times a week
- Wrong patient procedures occur 20 times a week
- Surgeons leave foreign objects inside patients 39 times each week in the U.S.
Understanding Types of Surgical Errors and How They Happen
Wrong Site Surgeries
Wrong part or wrong site surgeries are common on symmetrical parts of the body. For example, a man getting a cancerous testicle removed might wake up to find an error led to the removal of the healthy testicle. Other wrong site problem areas include the spine, arms, and legs. When a surgical team fails to double check patient records and mark the proper surgery area with an ink mark, these errors might occur.
Wrong Patient Surgeries
Wrong patient surgery is a common mistake between patients with similar names. A patient mix-up can cause patients to undergo a potentially harmful procedure while never getting the procedure they needed to receive. This type of surgical error can negatively affect two patients instead of just one.
Wrong Procedure Surgeries
Wrong procedure errors are similar to wrong patient surgery and often go hand-in-hand with that type of error. Miscommunication of patient records or surgical assignments can lead to the performance of an incorrect procedure on a patient.
Foreign Object Left in the Body
During surgery, the surgical team may use hundreds of individual pieces of equipment. Sponges are one of the most common objects surgeons leave in the body following a surgical procedure. Surgeons have also left metal clamps for holding back tissue, or closing arteries, inside patients. Most patients do not discover these errors until much later when they cause pain or show up on an imaging scan.
Complications of Surgical Errors
WSPE surgical errors can cause:
- The patient to require a second procedure to correct the errors of the first
- Irreversible damage (e.g., wrong site amputations, scars, etc.)
- A delay in receiving the correct procedure. This can be fatal for patients in dire need of a certain operation.
Foreign objects left in the body might not show any obvious signs of injury, and many are benign for years. Some patients report never knowing about a sponge in their body until it shows up in an x-ray. Other patients might complain of internal pain and infection as the body attacks the foreign object.
Filing a Claim for Surgical Errors
The argument against these errors is that with extra attention to detail and care before, during, and after surgery, these errors are 100 percent preventable.
The evidence for a surgical error must show what procedure the patient should have undergone, what happened, and the outcome of the error. Even if you do not severe negative effects from a foreign object, you may be entitled to damages covering the cost of removal and mental anguish over the error.
Depending on the damage done by a WSPE event, you might be entitled to long-term compensation for disability and damages related to loss of quality of life. A New York medical malpractice attorney might also bring in an expert medical witness to testify on what the surgical team did wrong to allow the error to happen.
Buttafuoco & Associates helps injured New Yorkers recover damages from a surgical error. If you suffered a surgical never event or lost a loved one due to a surgeon’s error, contact us at 1-800-NOW-HURT to schedule a free case review.