Arizona patients may be interested in learning about a recently-published study regarding surgical 'never events", which name is derived from the belief that they should never happen. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic found 69 of these never events out of 1.5 million invasive medical procedures that had been performed over a five-year period at the Minnesota facility. The researchers learned that a total of 628 human factors contributed to these mistakes.
The surgical errors included surgeries being performed on the incorrect side of the patient's body or the wrong area entirely, surgeons not performing the right procedure, objects such as sponges being left inside the patient and the wrong medical device being implanted. None of the errors resulted in fatal complications, and almost two-thirds of them happened during minor procedures. Some errors were found to occur due to distractions, overconfidence, fatigue, poor communication, and stress. Others were attributed to unsafe actions such as bending the rules, inadequate supervision and staffing deficiencies.
There are systems in place to help prevent surgical mistakes. One example is Mayo Clinic's sponge-counting system, which scans bar codes to help track the sponges. Other systems that can help prevent errors are team briefings and huddles prior to beginning surgery, pausing before making the first incision, and debriefings using a checklist.
In spite of the systems used to prevent them, surgical errors still occur, and the effects can be quite damaging. People who have been harmed by a surgeon's mistake often face additional medical bills for the corrective treatment, and many are unable to return to work for a long period. Those who have been in this situation may wish to speak with a medical malpractice attorney to determine if any legal remedies exist.