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They're called 'never events' because they should never happen

When you undergo medical treatment of any kind, you can reasonably expect your doctor and other licensed caregivers to act according to the highest level of accepted safety and treatment standards. For instance, if a doctor is going to physically examine you, he or she needs to wash his or her hands first. All doctors know this and are legally obligated to do it.

Never events are incidents where patients suffer injury or illness, and in worse cases, even death, because of medical negligence. Such incidents are preventable, which is what makes the aftermath of such situations so tragic. The more you know about the common errors that often lead to medical injury before heading to surgery or receiving treatment, the better. It's also good to know what your options are if a licensed medical worker is negligent in his or her duties, causing you to suffer physical, emotional or economic damages.

Mistakes that should never happen

It's one thing if your surgeon tells you there's a chance an operation might not be successful. It's another if he or she (or another medical team member) disregards regulations resulting in injury. The following list shows some of the most frequently reported types of errors that are often grounds for medical malpractice claims:

  • If you're scheduled for surgery, you might not think you need to make sure the surgeon has the right patient. However, wrong-patient surgery mistakes rank at the top of most lists regarding surgical negligence.
  • In addition to making sure you're the correct patient, you also want to confirm that your surgeon is about to do the correct operation on the correct body part. Wrong-site surgeries and incorrect procedures cause hundreds, if not thousands, of medical injuries every year.
  • Will you be taking any medication while you're in the hospital? Be aware that incorrect dosing, adverse drug interactions and other medication mistakes can put you at risk for serious, if not fatal injuries.
  • Foreign objects left inside the bodies of patients are another type of common surgical error.
  • As mentioned earlier, clean hands prevent illness and infection. MRSA and other dangerous infections often spread because of unclean hospital environments.

You can't follow a hospital worker around all day to make sure he or she is washing hands in between patients. You also can't confirm that your surgeon has left gauze or a surgical instrument inside your body if you're unconscious at the time. Awakening from surgery to find that your doctor did the wrong operation or you wind up with a nasty infection, and then learning that its cause is a forgotten surgical tool inside your body can be absolutely devastating, and should never happen.

Reasons are not excuses

While medical workers may be able to explain how an error occurred, such explanations do not excuse negligence and substandard care. Many Missouri medical patients need additional surgery or assisted-living care because of never events. The good news is that many have been able to offset the expenses associated with their injuries through the pursuit of compensation for damages through the courts after they filed medical malpractice claims against those who were believed negligent.

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