According to a Johns Hopkins study recently reported in the April 2013 issue of the journal Surgery, so-called surgical “never events” occur with shocking regularity. “Never events” include such events as operating on the wrong side of the body, leaving a foreign body inside a patient’s body after surgery, and falls off of operating tables. These are totally preventable events.

The Johns Hopkins researchers estimate that 80,000 “never events” occurred in American hospitals between 1990 and 2010, with 4,044 such events occurring each year. The researchers further noted that these estimates are likely on the low side. The researchers estimate that “a surgeon in the United States leaves a foreign object such as a sponge or towel inside a patient’s body after an operation 39 times a week, performs the wrong procedure on a patient 20 times a week, and operates on the wrong body site 20 times a week.”

Although patient safety procedures are in place at many hospitals, these statistics provide little comfort to patients undergoing surgical procedures. Public reporting of such “never events” would help patients to make better choices in their health care and work to improve patient safety. Although hospitals are currently asked to voluntarily supply such information to the Joint Commission that assesses patient safety, this reporting does not always occur.

Our attorneys at SUGARMAN have regularly represented clients who have been the victims of “never events” during surgery, and have a long history of pursuing complex and challenging medical malpractice claims. For more information or assistance with medical malpractice claims, call SUGARMAN’s personal injury attorneys at 617-542-1000 or email