“Never Event” is a universally recognized term in the medical profession referring to something that should never happen during surgery, such as a retained-foreign-body (an instrument or sponge left in the body) or a wrong-site, wrong patient, or wrong procedure surgery.

According to a recently released Johns Hopkins’ medical malpractice study, “never events” occur approximately 4000 times per year in the United States:

–  retained-foreign-body occurs 39/week;

–  wrong procedure occurs 20/week; and

–  wrong-site/patient occurs 20/week.

This astonishing number only further substantiates a fact that we all should already know:  physicians, just like the rest of us, are capable of negligence.  And, just like the rest of us, when their negligence causes injuries and damages to others, physicians should be held financially accountable.

From 1990 to 2010, the study, based upon information from the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), identified 9,744 paid malpractice judgments and claims resulting from “never events” with death reported in 6.6 percent of the patients and permanent injury reported in 32.9 percent of the patients.  The total compensatory payout amount of the 9,744 claims was approximately $1.3 billion.

To think, this data only accounts for “never events”.  It does not even begin to consider and account for medical malpractice claims resulting from the less egregious forms of medical negligence that occur each and every year.  Make no mistake, medical malpractice is a prevalent and unavoidable consequence of medical treatment in our society, and injured patients and their families deserve just compensation.

Cameron Stephenson is a lawyer with the Levin, Papantonio law firm in Pensacola, Florida, and handles medical malpractice and other wrongful death cases.  He has devoted his legal practice to fighting for the rights of Florida’s injured patients.

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