Never-events: Medical errors that should simply not ever occur

Although preventable surgical errors are not that common, it would not be unusual for patients in Louisiana who are scheduled for surgery to feel anxious. Occasional reports of WSPEs — wrong-site, wrong-procedure, wrong-patient errors — are enough to create fear of being a victim of one of these never-events, so-called because they should never occur.

Here are some examples of never-events:

  • Wrong-site errors: Operating on the wrong part of the spine, or the surgical removal of the left kidney instead of the right kidney.
  • Wrong-procedure errors: Errors of this type could occur in settings other than a surgical theater, such as interventional radiology or ambulatory surgery.
  • Wrong-patient errors: Amputating the wrong patient’s leg or removing the wrong patient’s breast, whose last name is similar to that of the scheduled patient.

Accepting that these errors are always the sole fault of the surgeon and theater staff would be incorrect. Some never-events occur because the ward personnel sent the wrong patient for surgery. Similarly, the paperwork that accompanies the patient might be incomplete or inaccurate.

Victims of never-events in Louisiana might have grounds to pursue financial relief through the state’s civil justice system. However, identifying the negligent party or parties could be a difficult task. Medical malpractice lawsuits are based upon proof of negligence, and the failure to meet accepted medical standards. Obtaining documented proof would be more easily achieved by an attorney with experience in this field. A successfully navigated lawsuit could lead to a monetary judgment to cover documented financial losses like medical expenses to cover past and future treatments necessitated by the surgical error. Additionally, emotional damages like pain and suffering could form a part of the documented claims.