Why do never events still happen?

The medical staff, hospital regulations and surgical equipment can play a part in the occurrence of medical errors known as never events.

Most surgeries in Maryland do not involve a never event. According to the Patient Safety Network, a never event is a wrong-site, wrong-procedure or wrong-patient error that takes place in 1 out of 112,000 surgeries performed in an operating room. Even though these mistakes are relatively uncommon, they can be detrimental to patients affected because they either got a surgery they never needed or it was performed on the wrong side.

The staff

Doctors and nurses act as the first line of defense against medical errors. Patients trust that a nurse will give them the medications prescribed to them rather than the patient two doors down. However, when hospitals have overworked or tired staff members, the likelihood of an adverse event taking place increases.

An overworked staff is not the only potential hazard. Medical teams need to work together seamlessly to ensure patients are receiving the best care possible. If the lead surgeon discourages the secondary doctors from pointing out his or her mistakes, it could lead to a knee surgery being performed on the wrong leg. Strong communication between staff members is essential in avoiding never events.

The regulations

Most hospital regulations are put in place to increase the safety of patients and the effectiveness of the staff. However, some procedural guidelines can have the opposite effect. For example, if a hospital is trying to cut back on overtime to help the staff get more rest, it may end up being short-staffed because there are not enough people to cover the surgical floor. This lack of workers can lead to new opportunities for surgical errors. When an institution relies too heavily on existing policies to prevent never events, the medical team may miss opportunities to introduce new regulations that could provide a more effective solution to ending wrong-site, wrong-procedure or wrong-patient events.

The equipment

The work environment in a surgical setting can play a huge role in the accuracy of surgery. Missing or broken equipment can increase the chances of a complication taking place because surgeons have to improvise during technically challenging aspects of a procedure. A lack of equipment could make the nurses and doctors more harried, which could, in turn, cause them to mindlessly go through the pre-surgery checklist and miss the fact that they brought the wrong patient to the operating room.

Surgical teams in Maryland are not infallible and often the mistakes made by surgeons and nurses could lead to life-long injury or death. If a patient is involved in a never event, such as a wrong-site, wrong-patient or wrong-procedure error, it may be beneficial for him or her to work with an attorney who is familiar with this type of medical error case.