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Never events caused by human behaviors

Arizona patients may know there are certain types of surgical errors that are seemingly avoidable but that unfortunately occur. These errors are referred to as "never events", because they are incidents that should not happen. In order to determine why these mistakes do occur, researchers with the Mayo Clinic identified 69 events that occurred over a five-year period to patients at its facility in order to determine why they happened.

Of the identified never events, 24 were from the wrong procedure being performed, 22 occurred when the wrong side or wrong site was operated on, 18 occurred when a foreign object was left inside the patient and five occurred when the wrong implant was put inside a patient. Approximately two-thirds of these incidents occurred during procedures that were relatively minor.

A gastroenterologic surgeon with the Mayo Clinic stated that, for a never event to occur, multiple things have to happen. Ultimately, researchers discovered that a total of 628 factors contributed to the identified errors, with four to nine factors being involved in each of the events. Some of the factors included stress, mental fatigue and unsafe actions. Oversight, inadequate supervision, poor problem planning and organizational issues were also common contributing causes to these events.

When surgical errors do occur, they can cause a patient unneeded harm, including extensive costs for the additional medical care and treatment necessary to correct the effects of the error as well as wages lost during the recovery period when the patient is unable to return to employment. Those who have been victims of such an event may wish to speak with a medical malpractice attorney to determine if any recourse is available against the negligent practitioner.

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