What Is a Surgical Never Event?

What Is a Surgical Never Event?

Medical errors, which encompass surgical never events, are responsible for at least 250,000 fatalities in the United States each year. While all surgical procedures carry a risk of injury and death, a
“never event” is a life-threatening and preventable medical error that is usually the result of gross human negligence. Unfortunately, to err is human, and you’ll probably never encounter a surgeon who hasn’t committed at least one mistake while caring for a patient. However, a never event is more than just a tragic mistake – it’s a complete disregard for a patient’s well-being that often leads to physical suffering, financial losses, emotional trauma, and even death.

In a study completed by Dr. Jitendra Kumar and Dr. Rajni Ra, the authors classify four types of surgical never events: communication errors, system failures, human errors, and equipment failures. They also explain never events as, “errors in medical care that are clearly identifiable, preventable, and serious in their consequences for patients, and that indicate a real problem in the safety and credibility of a health care facility.”

Examples of surgical never events include, but are not limited to:

  • Operating on the wrong patient
  • Performing surgery on the wrong body part
  • Implanting the wrong prosthesis during surgery
  • Administering improper doses of anesthesia or high-risk medications
  • Failing to properly complete or administer a caesarean section
  • Accidentally damaging a patient’s internal organs, tissues, and/or nerves
  • Transfusing incompatible blood or organs.
  • Using contaminated surgical instruments
  • Administering medications that are known to be fatal allergens
  • Leaving foreign objects inside a patient

There are certain steps a healthcare facility needs to take when a surgical never event occurs. First, the surgeon needs to do everything in their power to remedy the situation and save the patient. Hospital administrators also need to take a proactive stance by notifying the family, apologizing to the patient, waiving any injury-related medical fees, and reporting the event to the Patient Safety Organization or the Joint Commission.

Unfortunately, many anxious surgeons will try to conceal any incident that can be construed as a career-ending never event. It’s also not unusual for a hospital to cover-up an incident to protect a negligent surgeon – and therefore, the facility’s reputation. If the hospital and their insurer deny the incident and refuse to provide a reasonable settlement offer, then the victim’s only recourse is to pursue damages through a court case.

To secure a positive case result, your legal team needs to establish three critical factors:

  • There was a doctor/surgeon-patient relationship.
  • The at-fault party refused to provide a reasonable standard of care.
  • The plaintiff suffered physical harm and/or financial losses as a result of the defendant’s negligence.

What Is the Statute of Limitations in Mississippi?

Per the Mississippi Code Annotated section 15-1-36, a plaintiff has two years from the date of a surgical never event to file a medical malpractice claim against any at-fault parties. Of course, because there are exceptions to this deadline, including the discovery rule, it’s important that you discuss your case with an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.

At Richard Schwartz & Associates, P.A., our medical malpractice lawyers can research the never event, investigate the surgeon’s career history, and consult with medical specialists to develop a litigation strategy that proves the hospital and its staff violated the medical standard of care and caused you harm.

Also, most medical malpractice lawsuits filed in Mississippi require a certificate that confirms the following facts:

  • Your attorney has reviewed your case and consulted with at least one medical expert who can verify that the surgeon failed to uphold the standard duty of care.
  • Your lawyer believes this expert has a comprehensive understanding of the relevant medical issues and conditions pertaining to the lawsuit.
  • Your legal representative believes that there is “reasonable basis” for pursuing a civil lawsuit.

That said, this certificate isn’t required if the patient didn’t consent to the treatment or procedure that resulted in the never event. It’s also not obligatory in circumstances where the medical professional’s negligence “speaks for itself.” Otherwise, failure to file this certificate could lead to a case dismissal.

Let the Attorneys at Richard Schwartz & Associates, P.A. Fight for You

Contact the medical malpractice lawyers at Richard Schwartz & Associates, P.A. if you or a loved one has been harmed by the actions of a negligent surgeon. Our skilled litigators have been providing compassionate guidance and dependable legal services to the residents of Mississippi for over 30 years. We’re not afraid to aggressively litigate against hospital legal teams and insurance companies because we firmly believe that there is no excuse for a surgical never event. If you’re ready to pursue justice and restitution, contact our firm today!

Call Richard Schwartz & Associates, P.A.at (601) 869-0696 to schedule a free consultation.

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