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Researchers: More data needed to reduce 'never events'

In the medical field, "never events" is the term used to describe errors that should never occur. While never events are rare, these preventable errors still occur in North Carolina and throughout the country.

In a recent review published in "JAMA Surgery," "inadequate communication between health care providers" is cited as being behind many of these mistakes. Both miscommunication and missing information occurred in many cases, especially those involving wrong-site surgery.

Researchers looked at almost 140 studies between 2004 and 2014 involving three types of surgical never events: leaving an item in a person, operating on the wrong site or wrong person and surgical fires. Researchers found that in one operation out of every 10,000, an item was left inside the patient. Wrong site errors were far less common (around 1 out of 100,000), but the frequency varied depending on the type of surgery. There was not enough information on surgical fires to determine how often they occur.

The review noted that better tracking of these events is necessary in order to minimize the number of never events. The lead researcher said that this tracking should include "[i]ncidence rates, root causes and effects of interventions designed to prevent the events."

While these kinds of preventable medical errors are very rare, that hardly matters if the victim is you or a loved one. Often, people who aren't in the medical profession have no idea whether a mistake could or should have been prevented. They rely on what the hospitals and doctors tell them, which may or may not be truthful or accurate. A consultation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you decide whether to pursue legal action.

Source: The Huffington Post, "This Is Why Horrific Surgical Mistakes Still Happen In The U.S.," Laura Geggel, June 15, 2015

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