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Understanding never events in surgery

Washington residents are fortunate to have abundant health care facilities engaged in research and innovative treatments at their disposal. However, people should always remain aware that not every treatment, surgery or trip to the doctor will end well. Sadly, medical mistakes can and do happen all too often. When it comes time for a person to be on the operating table, understanding the types of mistakes that may happen is important.

WebMD explains that research shows as many as 4,000 surgical mistakes are made in the United States every year. In a given week, 20 surgeries may take place on the wrong body part or with the wrong procedure. Another 39 surgeries may find patients with surgical items left inside their bodies. Hospitals are only required to report errors that end up resulting in judgements or settlements.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality explains that many surgical errors are called never events. This is because they are considered so egregious that they should never have been allowed to happen.

Examples of never events include a surgery conducted on the wrong patient. This might happen if two people have very similar names. Another example is the wrong surgery being done on a patient. A third type is when the right surgery is done on the right patient but on the wrong body part, such as a left ovary being removed instead of a right ovary. In all of these cases, an attention to detail may be lacking. Hospitals have yet to find the best ways to avoid these errors altogether.

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