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Study Shows 80,000 Med Mal 'Never Events' Occurred In Past 20 Years

Published December 27, 2012 by Scott Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney

We’ve all heard stories of surgeons accidentally “leaving things” inside patients after an operation, but just how frequently that occurs may surprise you. A new study published by researchers at Johns Hopkins University reports that over 80,000 medical malpractice ‘never events’ occurred in U.S. Hospitals over the past 20 years.

Medical Malpractice ‘Never Events’ Common

Medical malpractice ‘never events’ include surgeons leaving towels and sponges inside patients, performing the wrong procedure on patients, or performing the right procedure but on the wrong side of the patient. According to the Johns Hopkins University study, these events are far more common than most people realize.

Reviewing surgical adverse events data which resulted in medical malpractice claims from 1990 to 2010, researchers determined that 4,044 surgical never events occur in the United States every year. Multiply that figure times 20 years and you’re well over 80,000 events. Some of the most common types of events include:

  • Leaving foreign objects inside patients after surgery. Surgeons leave foreign objects such as sponges and towels inside patients after surgery 39 times per week.
  • Performing wrong surgical procedures. Surgeons perform the wrong surgical procedures on patients 20 times per week.
  • Operating on wrong side of body. Surgeons performing the correct operation do so on the wrong side of a patient’s body 20 times per week.

Researchers also analyzed medical malpractice data from the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) to identify malpractice judgments and out-of-court settlements. They identified nearly 10,000 medical malpractice judgments and claims totaling $1.3 billion that were paid over that 20 year time period – and that’s just the never events.

Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

While the results of this particular survey may seem surprising, medical malpractice occurs every day. Medical malpractice victims may be entitled to compensation for their injuries in the form of medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering and more. If you’ve been injured, please contact us to discuss your situation and determine whether you’re entitled to compensation so that you can decide whether filing a medical malpractice lawsuit makes sense for you.

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